In view of the current U.S. government’s attitude toward clean energy, some may think that it is more difficult for U.S. states to implement their own greenhouse gas emissions plans than usual. However, California has achieved its greenhouse gas emissions target ahead of schedule.
According to a recent report from the California Air Resources Board on greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2016, emissions in 2016 dropped to 429.4 million metric tons, below the target of 431 metric tons for 2020.
Source: California Air Resources Board
The Impact of Transportation
The energy economist Severin Borenstein, from UC Berkeley, believes that transportation is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions in California and says solving the transportation problems would prove to be a challenge.
Despite a decline in overall emissions across the state, emissions in the transportation sector actually increased in 2016, probably due to the supply of cheap natural gas and the recovery of the economy from recession. So the state strongly supports the use of electric vehicles. As of October 2017, the state had 337,482 zero-emission vehicles (ZEV). Although that makes up only 4.5% of the state’s total number of cars, this figure increased by 53% between 2013 and 2017. To encourage more electric vehicles, the state needs to invest more in infrastructure. Borenstein said that if the goals of 2030 are to be achieved, the problem in transportation must be taken seriously.
The Investment in Renewable Energy
Efforts to slash emissions from power plants have been far more successful. California’s power plants have greatly got cleaner, curbed emissions, and transformed into clean energy forms in advance. Current state regulations require utility companies make sure that one-third of their electricity is sourced from the sun, the wind and other renewable sources by 2030, and that by 2050, half of their electricity will come from renewable sources. Last year, 33.7% of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s electricity came from renewable sources, while Southern California Edison reached 33.9%, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. reached 46.3%.
Individual consumers installing rooftop solar panels are the main contributors in electricity generation. It reduces the cost of solar ownership and home ownership, and to support local economies. This will be an excellent complement to the large renewable energy systems that compete in different markets.
Although the report does not show emissions in 2017 or 2018, according to the data, California’s greenhouse gas emissions have been steadily declining for a decade. California officials aren’t satisfied with this achievement, though. They will still try to achieve the next more ambitious goal. The state proposes that by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 40% from 1990 levels.