Cutting Californian emissions

A new study has been released that assesses the economic impacts of different policy approaches to reach California’s long term climate goals, finding that ambitious action sooner produces the biggest economic boost. The report, ‘California Climate Policy to 2050: Pathways for Sustained Prosperity’ is authored by David Roland-Holst of the University of California and is presented by the non-profit, non-partisan group, Next 10. The piece assesses the employment, income, household consumption, price, and emission impacts of different GHG reduction strategies, from ambitious early action to more gradual approaches the state could take to cut GHG emissions 80% below 1990 levels by the end of 2050.

Roland-Holst commented, “all seven policy pathways resulted in net positive economic benefits for Californians. But the most powerful economic and employment stimulus comes from moving quickly and aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

F. Noel Perry, Founder of Next 10 said, “as a world leader in carbon mitigation policy, renewable energy, and electric vehicle design and deployment, California can set global standards for a new generation of knowledge intensive innovation and serves as an example to world leaders meeting in Paris in December to discuss our climate future.”

Report findings

The policy scenario reflects the most ambitious 2030 emissions cap and produces the greatest overall positive economic impact, generating approximately 1 million more jobs and approximately 6% more GSP by 2050. This policy pathway includes a cap and trade program limiting emissions to 250 000 tCO2e in 2030, a 50% renewable energy portfolio by 2030, carbon mitigation credits, a moderate electric vehicle adoption rate, and trend improvements in energy efficiency.

The state can achieve its 2050 carbon emission reductions goals, even under the least ambitious cap and trade program analysed, with a carbon mitigation credit program offering some out of state mitigation credits that are verifiable, additional and tradable. Outsourcing emission reductions, however, reduces in state innovation incentives and might be detrimental to local air quality.

Although the state could reach its 2050 emissions goal under either the ambitious or deferred pathways, a cap and trade program that limits total GHG emissions to 250 000 tCO2e by 2030 would result in over 14% greater reduction in global warming pollution when compared to a less ambitious 2030 cap of 376 000 tCO2e.

Next steps

As set by the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), California is on track to meet its goal to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. After 2020, in order to meet long term climate goals in 2050, the state will need to cut emissions at more than twice the current rate. At the UN Climate Summit in the fall of last year, Gov. Brown asserted he would soon set a new GHG goal for California for the year 2030.


Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

Published on 29/04/2015


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