More e-cars, solar needed to reach tough new CA climate standard- 40% below 1990 levels, from 441 mt GHG to 260 mt

  • To reach 40% below 1990 levels, must go from 441 million metric tons greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 to ~260 million metric tons in emissions by 2030
  • Current laws get CA to ~375 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, ~only 1/3 of the way to the new 2030 goal

By Paul Rogers,

Posted:   08/27/2016 02:36:47 PM PDT | Updated

California is already a world leader in developing environmental policies that address climate change. But under a landmark bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday requiring far steeper reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than anything the state has ever attempted, the next 15 years will likely see big changes for California residents.

Among the possibilities, experts say: Rules requiring automakers to make hundreds of thousands of electric cars. Penalties for people who buy gasoline-powered vehicles. New tax credits and incentives for solar farms and wind power. Tighter building-efficiency standards on windows, heating and water systems in homes and businesses. Labels at the supermarket showing each product’s carbon footprint. Hydrogen-powered trucks. Landfills that are required to capture natural gas and use it to heat homes. A big push for batteries to store energy at homes. Even with all those changes, however, the new targets will be difficult to reach…..The measure, a key victory for Brown, builds on AB 32, a law signed in 2006 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that required the state to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

California is on track to meet that goal, having already cut emissions 9.4 percent from their peak in 2004, but to cut them another 40 percent in a decade and a half will require a host of new rules and incentives from the California Air Resources Board and other state agencies in the coming years, along with some new laws from the Legislature.

Studies by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab lay the math out clearly. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, California emitted 441 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. The target for 2020 is 431, but emissions will have to fall to roughly 260 to meet the target in state Sen. Fran Pavley’s bill.

There are key existing laws already in place that will help… Brown signed a law last year requiring that the state’s utilities produce 50 percent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2030. And in 2009, President Barack Obama required automakers to double gas mileage standards nationwide from an average of 27 miles per gallon to 54 by 2025…Yet even with the huge savings from those laws, California will still get to only about 375 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — or about a third of the way to the 2030 goal, according to Lawrence Berkeley lab estimates.

….”There are many ways to get there,” he said… California could increase the renewable energy requirement beyond 50 percent, he said. Or it could begin to reduce the carbon footprint of natural gas that is used commonly in homes and businesses by requiring “recycled” natural gas from landfills to be mixed in with it. Or it could pass building rules requiring most appliances that now run on natural gas to run on electricity. It could require companies to use hybrid vehicles for delivery trucks, electrify diesel trains and expand research and incentives for home battery storage, so people could power their homes with electricity from their vehicle batteries while their electric cars sit in the driveway…

The state has cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly 10 percent since 2004. And during that time, the state’s annual economic output has grown from $1.5 trillion to $2.2 trillion…. Dan Kammen, director of the renewable energy lab at UC Berkeley, said the new rules will spur innovation and investment, as previous California environmental laws have done.

“Utilities will be like eBay, brokering electricity sales from people’s rooftop solar systems,” he said. “We’re going to see homes built that have no natural gas lines to them, and solar on the roof with battery storage. You are going to see buildings built with chemical batteries built into the foundation to store energy.” California’s 40 percent reduction target by 2030 is similar to goals set by the European Union — regulations that scientists say are necessary to limit warming to about 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the rest of this century.

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