California is pushing the limits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the session just closed, the State Legislature passed two bills to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 – SB 32 (F. Pavley) requiring the change, and its companion bill AB 197 (E. Garcia) requiring additional accountability for it. Governor Brown has signed both.
The former goal set by AB 32 in 2006 required reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. We’re on track for that. The new goal is much harder, requiring California to reach 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 – just fourteen years from now.
Can California do it? Yes, but barely. Work by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab shows that California will reach the current goal of 1990 levels by 2020 using committed policies, but – as
seen in the figure to the right –- will need to rely on policies to which the state is not yet committed and to rely on potential technologies and market futures to reach the 2030 goal. A lot can happen in 14 years, and clearly technology will accelerate. The new goal keeps a strong pressure on the market to push for that change.
Cap and trade will help reach the goal, but has been hampered by litigation since 2013. The case brought by the California Chamber of Congress claims that cap and trade is a form of tax and so requires a 2/3 vote.
AB 197 (E. Garcia) provides transparency and additional accountability for the California Air Resources Board who is in charge of implementing the requirements. AB 197 adds disadvantaged communities and those most affected by air pollution as a priority consideration. It also includes use of social cost of carbon in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of emission reduction measures to better account for the full array of costs and benefits associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Story credit with permission: Price on Carbon.org.
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