New Jersey's Global Warming Response Act Bill Signing

Earlier this Summer, New Jersey passed landmark, ground-breaking legislation that will put an economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions to bring emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.

The bill’s implementation is in the hands of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The department, in conjunction with other state agencies, must develop a pollution monitoring and reporting program by January 2009, a plan to achieve the 2020 limit by no later than June 2008, and a plan to achieve the 2050 limit no later than June 2010. Solutions to cut pollution levels are expected to focus on reducing the state’s energy consumption and shifting to clean, renewable sources of energy in the transportation and electricity sectors – the two largest sources of global warming pollution in the state.

This is not just because some legislators got a good idea in their head and moved forward on their own. But rather this is the outcome of a concerted effort by a coalition of the state's environmental groups called the NJ Climate Change March as part of the larger Step It Up 2007 campaign led by Bill McKibben to force the legislature's hand on the last day of their session. As Mr. McKibben said at a lecture I attended a couple of months ago: "Politicians are like's up to us to make the wind blow."

From the video above it is clear that this is not just about New Jersey taking responsibility and action in it's own backyard, but this is squarely aimed at impacting policy at the national level and ultimately the global agenda. Without a clear national plan to reduce CO2 levels, it seems that more cities and states will join up and take action.

With all due respect, this is Nyew Jousey we're talking about. They just had 11 public officials indicted for corruption and bribery the past couple of days. With all the other "fun and games" they've played with the laws over the years I'll believe it when I see it - and then only after an impartial 3rd party accounting firm certifies it.

It is good to see effort at the local and state level, but this, like almost everything else, is too little and too late.

I'm not saying this is a bad move, but these things are more of an opening gambit, and we won't see serious action until something awful happens. Katrina? That was bad, but we need awful to get us moving. New Orleans, again and harder, a big one hitting New York, gasoline below MOL for a good long while, arctic melting fed CrAzYsToRmS in the Pacific Northwest burying the whole area for three months straight the winter after, and then a cracking good drought in the Midwest ruining the corn crop as another whopper hurricane season gets everything it missed the year prior.

We got lucky in a way, with the el niño in the summer of 2006 breaking up the Atlantic hurricane season but in retrospect I think we're all going to see this was breathing room for the Bush administration that was wasted in more denial rather than meaningful preparation.


I must respectfully disagree. The nature of almost all politics and politicians is that they react to the mood of the people rather than engage in planning and act through a motive to help the world. The current national administration is a great example of this. I have no doubt that they thought they were acting in the best interests of the United States when they decided to conquer Iraq.Cheney and Bush thought physical control of the oil resources in Iraq would secure the economic future of the people of the US by allowing the car companies to sell more and larger SUV's and the big oil companies to hugely increase their reserves, meanwhile giving all the Halliburton employees's jobs. So they lied, murdered a million Iraqiis or so, and manipulated the US electoral process, just like all the other totalitarians.

But now the local action by Americans is starting to pay off in ending the war. Its not the "wonderful" media reports or the Administations awakening thats going to end the war, but rather the slowly growing public opinion in spite of the media reports causing this sea-change. And its going to have to be the same on global warming and peak oil. I reccomend that you read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" as an antidote to your views of change, ar at any rate, to get a different perspective on change.
Bob Ebersole

My goodness, this is truly amazing. We really need a 90% reduction to retain a healthy biosphere, but this step is in isolation and reductions will become increasingly easier as others join in and economies of scale and bodies of knowledge are achieved. Way to go! But remember that air travel will account for 50% of emmissions by 2030 if we are not careful, and targets today do not include that because there is no international agreement on how to deal with them. Even tho its as simple as working out the CO2, multiplying it by the additional effect of things like contrails and attributing 50% to the start and 50% to the destination country, or by dividing it by the number of people from the location who are using the air.

For more about the 90% target (which must include aviation), why we need it and how to get there, read Heat by George Monbiot ISBN 9780141026626. It is a fascinating account about how many things will not get us there, but that there are ways. In my mind, it plays down the potential benefits of a new generation of airships and possibly more efficient ocean passenger transport (planes are the hardest thing to deal with, without not flying) and plays down the role of vegetarianism (meat takes up about 7x more land than vegetable food, leaving more space for carbon sinks and bio-fuel), but is the most useful and green movement critical account I've seen yet.

"Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there." (Aldous Huxley "Island" 1962, p38)

According to Hubbert Linearization, by 2050, when New Jersey is supposed to have 80% less greenhouse gas emissions, there won't be any oil left to create greenhouse gas emissions.

A plan like this that makes no mention of the permanent fuel shortage is a silly plan that will be abandoned.

Bm: It is my understanding that the plan is to generate the greenhouse gas emissions from coal in 2050.

Sure, but even the cheap coal is gone already. Any transition from oil to coal is likely to trigger "peak coal" in our lifetimes. By 2050 there won't be any choice but to emit 80% less - all fossil fuels will be largely gone by then.

Global warming is a serious problem, and it's great that the media and government are finally talking about it. But they aren't taking it seriously enough. And the taboo against discussing overpopulation and peak fuels remains firmly in place.

ther's a lot of cheap coal of excellent quality in Wyoming, and a whole lot of lignite in Texas and other states thats 40% water with all kinds of heavy metal pollutants. If you're talking about fairly clean burning cheap coal near the eastern centers of population, or in England ,you are definitely right.

I advocate what the Demicans and Republocrats would consider unthinkable. We need to tell the power companies that all coal must be phased out in 10 years, so stop building coal plants and focus on another base load generation like nuclear, while building wind and solar as fast as possible. Same way with refineries. Tell them they are shutting down in 10 years, but they can have as much of the wind, tidal, geothermal and solar business that they can build. Take all the auto mechanics and long haul truckers and retrain them for free as wind turbine manufacturers and mechanics, solar installers and workers in solar plants, railroaders and short haul truckers with freight from Alan's electric railroad plan.

If people have a sense of purpose and a personal plan they will become excited and make all kinds of willing sacrifices. There was a real sense of purpose when I was a kid and everyone was working to put a man on the moon. And with real leaders, not deciders, we can have a sense of purpose again. Bob Ebersole

Unfortunately Bob you are right. Coal is very dirty and is the only scalable replacement for oil in the decades to come.

I agree that we should enact a moratorium on coal but I think we can do no such thing, because it is cheap and scalable. Pro-coal people can offer cheap energy in the short term, and politically nothing can counteract that.

You and Alan are right that electric trains are required for shipping in the medium term. I think likewise I'm right that scooters are required for personal transportation in the medium term.


Thanks Phil, I agree that this is a piece of landmark piece of legislation. It will all be in the execution, but now at least they are on the record for having stated a policy goal in law. This can eventually affect large areas of public policy from transportation to local land use to utility regulations.

I read Heat and frankly I think we could easily give up about 50-80% of air travel as completely non-essential. Reducing air travel and future investment in air travel infrastructure would be very easy low hanging fruit to reduce carbon emissions. And Air Travel is highly interconnected to other carbon intensive and environmentally destructive activities so there would be nice downstream impacts as well.

It is important to remember that Monbiot does not have a 90% reduction for everyone. He gave a nice talk recently here calling for zero emissions by 2030. Some of his ideas are similar to those found here, others not.


This seems to be part of a 'me too' groundswell of carbon limiting legislation. It is truly heartwarming to realize that we can, with the collective stroke of the pen, finally nail down and smother the carbon beast. Hi HOOO Dragon, I hereby slay thee in triplicate, O Reptilian Evildoer!

The ghost of Rio '92 and the Kyoto Accord lives on. The Province of British Columbia is about to banish 20% of carbon emissions by 2020; quite how is left to the imagination - or after the next election.

My personal solution is the pig I am training to fly and ride on. But we truly need a national plan that doesn't work instead of individual inaction by the states and provinces.

As a resident of New Jersey, I just kind of yawned at this. This type of legislation has never worked, and it never will. This is a proclomation rather than a law. The only thing that is going to result from it is the state EPA spending a whole bunch of money on studies and recommendations to the state legislature. At that point, a whole lot of hemming and hawing will go on, and we'll be right back at square one.

Like Westtexas said, we should just put a limit on how much longer we'll use fossil fuels as an energy source and see where the chips fall. We might not end up with the same society we have now, but at least the air will be cleaner.

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."

"This is a proclomation rather than a law"

Actually it is the law.