Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Air Quality

California Highlights Its Environmental Progress

Originally published on the NRDC website.
By Alex Jackson

California’s new roadmap for reducing carbon pollution shows that the state is on track to cut emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, and spotlights how the state’s leadership is helping spur action by others around the world to tackle this global problem. But the updated roadmap falls short on identifying concrete next steps for California to stay on track over the following decade.

The California Air Resources Board released a draft of the new Scoping Plan this week, originally adopted in 2008 to guide implementation of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). The plan sets out to answer three questions:

  • What has California achieved so far?
  • What is needed to maintain the state’s progress out to 2020?
  • And what steps need to be taken now to keep California on track toward achieving its long-term emissions reduction goals?

California On Track to Meet 2020 Limit

The draft paints a compelling picture of California’s tremendous progress in reducing emissions, ramping up clean energy, improving public health, and laying the groundwork to achieve AB 32’s 2020 pollution limit.

A few highlights from the draft:

  • Statewide emissions are down 12 million metric tons or 2.7 percent since 2000, even as California added nearly 4 million additional residents over the same time period;
  • Annual black carbon emissions (a powerful, short-lived climate pollutant and toxic air pollutant emitted from burning coal, diesel and biomass) in California decreased an estimated 70 percent between 1990 and 2010;
  • California’s low-carbon fuel standard has helped to displace 2 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel – the equivalent of taking half a million vehicles off the road;
  • California’s advanced clean cars program, developed in collaboration with the federal government, will cut emissions from new passenger vehicles in 2025 by half compared to today’s fleet mix;
  • California leads the nation in solar PV capacity, and is the nation’s second largest producer of wind power; and
  • Since the 1970s, Californians have saved $74 billion in electricity costs thanks to more energy-efficient homes, businesses and appliances.

Scoping Plan blog image.jpg

California’s Leadership is Driving Broader Action

The draft also spotlights the effect California’s leadership has had on spurring climate action beyond its borders. Nationally, California paved the way for federal standards to limit emissions from both cars and power plants – the two largest contributors of carbon pollution in the U.S. Globally, California has signed a series of agreements with China and Australia to expand bilateral cooperation on climate change, and will link its carbon market with Quebec starting next year.

Good Start but More Work Ahead

While the draft paints a broad picture of key opportunities and challenges on the road ahead, it falls short on identifying concrete next steps for California to stay on track. The draft includes a few important action items – including extending the cap-and-trade program out to 2030 and developing a comprehensive strategy to identify, monitor and reduce short-lived climate pollutants like methane and black carbon.

But in other areas the draft could be improved. It calls on the state to establish a midpoint reduction target in 2030, but lacks any recommendation, timeline or process for setting the target. It calls on the state to prepare an energy plan that will facilitate achievement of California’s long-term climate goals, but presents mostly a menu of objectives rather than recommendations on what the plan should entail, or what emission reduction it should achieve by 2030. And it identifies a wide range of potential investments for cap-and-trade auction proceeds, but offers little direction on what funding strategies the state should prioritize among the many contenders.

As the draft notes, we can ill afford to delay: emissions from 2020 to 2050 will need to decline at more than twice the rate needed to achieve the 2020 reduction target, and investments in new power plants, roads or other infrastructure will begin locking in emissions for the next generation.

The Impetus for Action

As the impacts of climate change hit home in California and around the world, California’s leadership in developing an effective and enduring model to reduce carbon pollution is more pressing than ever. The Scoping Plan is California’s one-stop-shop for those efforts. The update process provides the ideal forum for the state to plan and coordinate the specific actions California needs to take to keep moving toward a clean energy future.

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Advertisement
 
Written By

NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists, and other professionals.

Comments

You May Also Like

Clean Transport

One of the biggest challenges with the transition to electric vehicles is making the transition as equitable as possible. As with most new tech,...

Buildings

Heat pumps, hot water heaters, and virtual power plants will do some serious generation-shifting on their own, with or without the Clean Power Plan...

Clean Power

California recently launched a first-in-the-nation initiative to spur growth in rooftop solar and reduce consumer costs by cutting red tape that impedes solar installations....

Clean Transport

One of the biggest challenges in designing an EV is the limited battery capacity, and until relatively recently, it has kept most EVs on...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.