The New Jersey legislation requires a mandatory reduction of the state's greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by 2020 - the same as California and Hawaii.
New Jersey also requires that emissions levels drop to 80 percent below current levels by 2050, the first state in the nation to set such a limit.
These are the limits scientists say are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
The act follows Governor Corzine's Executive Order, signed in February, establishing parallel goals. The Governor has stated he will sign the bill.
'Global warming is the most urgent environmental issue in our lifetime,' said State Senator Barbara Buono, a Democrat. 'This legislation sets up a comprehensive solution to global warming. It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase energy efficiency, resulting in significant cost savings for both families and businesses.'
'In the absence of a federal policy to address climate change on a national level, states must take the lead to reduce global warming causing emissions before it is too late, 'said Assemblywoman Linda Stender, a Democrat.
'Considering New Jersey's high energy demand, implementation of the Global Warming Response Act will make a significant difference on a global scale and I am confident our success will serve as a valuable example for others states and this nation to follow,' she said.
The bill's implementation is in the hands of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, DEP. 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.
New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming. Without decisive action to cut pollution levels, global warming is expected to affect every corner of the state in the next century.
New Jersey could be irrevocably altered by rising seas, severe flooding, health-threatening temperatures and air pollution, pest infestation, species decline and challenges to critical public infrastructure, says the nonprofit Environment New Jersey.
'By cutting pollution levels here at home, the New Jersey Legislature is setting the stage for urgently needed action in other states and the nation,' said Suzanne Leta Liou, global warming and clean energy advocate at Environment New Jersey. 'New Jersey will also receive the tremendous economic growth benefits of spurred investment in our growing renewable energy industry and protection from rising energy prices.'
Eight additional states – Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin, - are debating similar legislation.