Jan 16, 2020 - Energy & Environment

California is on track to miss its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target

Reproduced from California Energy Policy Simulator; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from California Energy Policy Simulator; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new analysis finds that California is not on track to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets absent new and toughened clean energy policies.

Why it matters: California has many of the nation's most aggressive programs, so the results shows the difficulty of achieving steep state-level cuts in that state and others adopting ambitious climate targets.

  • California also matters a lot because it's the world's fifth-largest economy and its emissions are the second-largest among U.S. states behind Texas.

But, but, but: The research firm Energy Innovation also lays out ideas for making the state's programs tougher in order to meet the target — changes the authors say would yield billions of dollars in economic and health benefits.

The big picture: The analysis — based on a state-specific version of the firm's "energy policy simulator" — shows that the state's existing policies and trends will drive down emissions but fall short of California's statutory target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

What they found: The half-dozen policy recommendations include...

  • Changing the state's cap-and-trade program to make minimum pollution permit prices rise faster if emissions cuts aren't on pace for the 2030 target.
  • Boosting the state's zero-emissions vehicles goal to 7.5 million on the roads by 2030, up from the current 5 million target.
  • Creating a zero-emissions performance standard for industrial heating systems.

The bottom line: "California’s policymakers have a challenging job, working at the forefront of global climate action. In effect, they are inventing a sophisticated climate policy machine without obvious precedent," it states.

  • The study was funded by the nonprofit Aspen Global Change Institute.

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