Dale Kasler, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at UC Berkeley, said a key reason why carbon pollution has fallen is the Great Recession, which took a huge toll on economic activity in its early years.
California has beaten its self-imposed goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, achieving a milestone in the state’s fight against climate change.
The California Air Resources Board announced Wednesday that total statewide carbon emissions fell to 429 million metric tons in 2016, a drop of 12 million tons from the year before. The decline means California met the Legislature’s goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels, and did so a full four years before the target year of 2020.
Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials said the results proved the state’s portfolio of anti-carbon laws and regulations is succeeding — and showed California can fight climate change while still enjoying a significant economic boom. They pledged to continue to fight efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to roll back strict emission rules imposed by the Obama administration.
“This is great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change,” said Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols in a prepared statement.
Read more at https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/environment/article214717585.html
David Roberts, VOX
In 2006, California passed its groundbreaking climate legislation AB 32, which put in place a target for greenhouse gas reductions and set in motion a cascade of regulations, subsidies, and performance standards that has continued unabated ever since.
Three years after that, in 2009, a nonprofit advocacy organization called Next 10 teamed up with the research firm Beacon Economics to track the state’s progress in a detailed annual report called the California Green Innovation Index.
The ninth edition of the CGII has just been released, and it offers a good opportunity to reflect on how California has done so far and, more importantly, to grapple with the big challenge that lies just ahead.
To put it as simply as possible: California’s experience shows that decarbonizing the electricity sector is both possible and profitable, but to reach its ambitious carbon targets, the state will now have to decarbonize transportation — which brings a whole new and daunting set of difficulties.
As has so often been the case, California is a few steps ahead of the rest of the country in this, offering a preview of things to come. The state’s biggest decarbonization problem — cars — will soon become the nation’s.
Read more at: California has a climate problem, and its name is cars – Vox
Fred Allebach, SONOMA VALLEY SUN
The County of Sonoma and it’s nine cities together are formulating a plan to collectively decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This plan is called Sonoma County Climate Action 2020, and until a lawsuit was recently filed challenging some of its underlying assumptions, the cities were prepared to sign onto the plan. This report provides background information about the plan, and where things stand today.
In 1850 the Industrial Revolution kicked off an era of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that began to accumulate in the earth’s atmosphere. As the world’s population grew by the billions, human-caused GHG emissions environmental impacts became greater and greater, especially since the 1950s.
By the mid 1980s, human-caused climate change was acknowledged as a serious problem. and precipitated the first articulation of sustainability principles. These include concepts such as the triple bottom line, full cost accounting and systems literacy.
California, being a vanguard state, in 2006 the Schwarzenegger administration began a series of measures and bills that put the state on track to reducing GHG emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by the year 2020.
Sonoma County and Individual Cities Take Local Action
Sonoma County took the ball and ran with it, each jurisdiction setting even deeper reduction goals (25% below 1990) and creating the nation’s first Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in 2009. This was seen as cutting edge throughout the entire United States. The RCPA then worked to create a Climate Action 2020 plan for Sonoma County, finalized in July of 2016.
Each Sonoma County municipality was included in the Climate Action Plan (CAP), and able to choose from among a slate of possible voluntary local GHG emissions reduction measures that would be their contribution to the overall plan. A combination of the number of local measures chosen from the RCPA list, plus the overall amount of carbon reduced, added up to the percent of a city’s contribution to the CAP.
Read more at: In-Depth Report: Sonoma County Climate Action 2020 | Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA
Alicia Chang, ASSOCIATED PRESS
A decade ago, California vowed to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.With the nation’s most populous state on pace to meet that target, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday charted a new goal to further cut carbon pollution by extending and expanding the landmark climate change law.
It will “keep California on the move to clean up the environment,” Brown said in a Los Angeles park before signing a pair of bills that survived heavy opposition from the oil industry, business groups and Republicans.
Experts said going forward will be more challenging because the new goal — to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — is considerably more ambitious and many of the easy solutions have been employed.
“The long and the short of it is that meeting the goal will require sustained regulatory effort across all sectors of the economy,” said Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
California is on track to meet the 2020 climate goal that called for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by restricting the carbon content of gasoline and diesel fuel, encouraging sales of zero-emission vehicles and imposing a tax on pollution.
The state plans to build on that foundation and ramp up other efforts including increasing renewable electricity use, boosting energy efficiency in existing buildings and putting 1.5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road, according to the California Air Resources Board, which is in charge of climate policy.
Read more at: California extends most ambitious US climate change law | The Press Democrat
Dan Morain, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Before he would commit to voting for landmark legislation to cut petroleum use by 50 percent, Assemblyman Adam Gray had a few requests.
Actually, it was more than a few. The term sheet runs three pages. The quid for the quo is something to behold.
In one of his more remarkably bold suggestions, the Merced Democrat sought $550 million a year in cap-and-trade revenue to pay for more water storage. Additional water storage is a great idea. But cap-and-trade money must be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not provide water in perpetuity for Central Valley farmers.
And then there were the three pages of amendments offered by the Western States Petroleum Association. Its demands would have gutted the California Air Resources Board, the agency directly responsible for reducing air pollution created by the oil industry.
Faced with demands made by industry and well-greased Assembly members from his own Democratic Party, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León concluded last week that he had no choice but to gut the most significant part of his Senate Bill 350, the sections that sought to force a 50 percent reduction in oil use.
Not having been in the room when negotiations were going on, I don’t know who said what. But the wish lists offer some insights into the pulls and tugs that led to the decision to limit SB 350. Though it won’t cut oil use, it will reduce electricity use and increase wind and solar power.
Gray was quick to say “we have to take aggressive action on climate change.” He also defended his proposals by saying he wants to “make sure the Valley is not put at a disadvantage,” while people in “Palo Alto are driving around in Teslas.”
Gray is one of 20 or so Assembly Democrats who call themselves moderates, and held out against the petroleum reduction in SB 350. As near as I can tell, being a moderate has little to do with their stands on social issues, or their willingness to challenge the core of Democratic support, public employee unions; they aren’t.
Rather, the definition seems to revolve around a willingness to accept campaign money from oil, tobacco or anyone else, and their malleability when donors come calling. Certainly, the reflections of some of Gray’s donors can be seen in some of the amendments he suggested.
Read more at: Dan Morain: How oil won the battle for SB 350 | The Sacramento Bee
David Siders & Jeremy B. White, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
In a major setback for Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate agenda, the governor and legislative leaders on Wednesday abandoned an effort to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030.
The announcement followed weeks of lobbying by oil companies and resistance not only from Republicans, but moderate Democrats in the Assembly.
For Brown, the failure represented a rare legislative defeat, and on Wednesday there were two: In addition to dropping the petroleum reduction mandate from Senate Bill 350, Brown’s proposal to raise billions of dollars for road repairs appeared to stall.
At a dreary news conference at the Capitol, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she does not expect a vote on road funding before the legislative session concludes at the end of the week, though she said lawmakers will continue to discuss transportation funding later.
Brown, who has made climate change a priority of his administration, said he will push forward on greenhouse gas emissions using his executive authority. The bill will preserve the California Air Resources Board’s existing power to make regulations that reduce emissions.
Read more at: Jerry Brown, Kevin de Leon abandon legislative push to require 50 percent cut in gasoline use
Adam Nagourney, NYTIMES.COM
Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday sharply speeding up this state’s already ambitious program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, saying it was critical to address “an ever-growing threat” posed by global warming to the state’s economy and well-being.
The order, announced early Wednesday morning, was intended as a jolt to a landmark 2006 environmental law requiring an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas reductions by 2050, compared with 1990. Under Mr. Brown’s order, the state would have to get halfway there — a 40 percent reduction — by 2030.
Mr. Brown said this tough new interim target was essential to prod the energy industry to act and to help the state make investment and regulatory decisions that would assure that goal was not missed.
Read more via: California Governor Orders New Target for Emissions Cuts – NYTimes.com