This week, California Governor Jerry Brown issued an ambitious new emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It’s being lauded as one of the most aggressive climate targets in North America.
The new target is as an important step between California’s goal of reducing emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, set in an earlier executive order, and the interim target of 1990 levels by 2020, set under California law AB32 in 2006.
In 2013, AB32 launched one of its key policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet these targets – the Cap and Trade program. Unlike many such programs around the world, California’s Cap and Trade program acts as a backstop to a series of complementary policies that cover major emitting sectors in the state with the goal of returning California emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
CPI’s California Carbon Dashboard continues to offer the latest on AB32 and California’s Cap and Trade program, including current and historic carbon prices in California, emissions caps and history by sector, and relevant updates from the California Air Resources Board. It also provides a comprehensive overview of AB32 and complementary policies, as well as the role of the Cap and Trade program in meeting the emissions reduction target.
CPI analysis shows that the carbon price is making a difference. A 2014 study explored how industrial firms, which are responsible for 20% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and are required to buy allowances to cover some of their emissions, are making decisions under the Cap and Trade Program. We focused on the cement industry, which is the largest consumer of coal in California, and found that the carbon price is making a difference in how cement firms approach business decisions about actions that would reduce emissions, such as investing in energy efficiency or switching to cleaner fuel.
It’s clear that California is well on its way to achieving the 2020 target, but meeting the 2050 target would require reducing emissions five times faster than the current pace. Governor Brown’s new 2030 target will put pressure on the state to pick up the pace. The next step is for California’s legislature to put in place a legal framework for post-2020 emissions reductions. CPI will update the California Carbon Dashboard once a post-2020 framework is in place.