(Adds more details on the target, background)
April 29 (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, his office said in a statement.
The new target is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions,” the governor’s office said.
“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached - for this generation and generations to come,” Brown said in a statement.
The new target would put California on track to meet a longer-term goal of achieving an 80 percent cut below the same benchmark by 2050.
The state is “on track” to meet or beat its current target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, the governor’s office said.
Brown’s announcement comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works to finalize by July or August the first mandatory rules to limit carbon emissions from the country’s existing power plants.
Under the current EPA proposal, California is required to cut the rate at which its power plants emit carbon dioxide by 23 percent by 2030.
The state already has in place an economy-wide cap-and-trade system that will help it meet state and federal emissions-cut targets.
States will need to submit plans next year to the EPA detailing how they will meet EPA-assigned emissions targets.
Brown also said in the statement that California’s new target is in line with those of some leading international governments ahead of United Nations climate change negotiations that will take place for two weeks in Paris, starting Nov. 30.
“California’s announcement is a realization and a determination that will gladly resonate with other inspiring actions within the United States and around the globe,” Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate change chief, said in a statement. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey; and Peter Galloway)