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article imageCalifornia reaches reduction in GHG emission levels early

By Karen Graham     Jul 12, 2018 in Environment
Meeting the reduction in greenhouse gas emission goals as set forth in the Paris agreement signed in December 2015 has been hard for many countries, but one U.S. state has met its emission goals ahead of schedule.
California Governor Jerry Brown has every good reason to crow a bit about his state's accomplishment, saying on Wednesday, “California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results," according to the Associated Press.
Governor Brown was referring to data released by the California Air Resources Board this week, showing greenhouse gas emissions dropped to 429.4 million metric tons in 2016, below the target of 431 metric tons set for 2020. The total in 2015 was 441.4 million metric tons.
All this good news bears witness to a state law called the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The law requires California to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — a reduction of approximately 15 percent below emissions expected under a “business as usual” scenario.
Part of the 354 MW SEGS solar complex in northern San Bernardino County  California in 2011.
Part of the 354 MW SEGS solar complex in northern San Bernardino County, California in 2011.
The next phase of the law is for emissions to get 40 percent below that 1990 marker by 2030, which may be more difficult for the state to reach. But Alex Jackson, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s San Francisco office said that it is possible, according to The Hill. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Jackson said.
Breakdown of the emissions report
Basically, the ARB report is broken down into seven different categories: transportation, industrial, electric power, commercial and residential, agriculture, high GWP, and recycling and waste.
Industrial and electric power emissions saw the biggest drops during this period, and this is likely the result of an increase in the use of solar electricity generation and hydroelectric power, which correlated to a 15 percent decrease in using natural gas for electricity.
Looking south above Interstate 80  the Eastshore Freeway  near Berkeley  California on a Saturday af...
Looking south above Interstate 80, the Eastshore Freeway, near Berkeley, California on a Saturday afternoon
As a matter of fact, the AP noted that the uptick in solar electricity generation was actually 33 percent in 2016 thanks to the increased adoption of rooftop arrays and large solar power plants. And this is impressive in a state with close to 40 million people, making it the second-most populous sub-national entity in the Western Hemisphere.
One category, in particular, continued to rise, even though the overall report was excellent. But even with incentives available for Californians to purchase electric vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles increased, which means that people are purchasing more gas-powered cars or the cost of gas was so cheap, according to Engadget.
A positive sign for the rest of the nation and the world
California has some of the strictest emission regulations in the U.S., and while the federal government seems set on undoing any and every regulation designed to protect the environment - all the while pretending climate change doesn’t exist, California has shown other state governments there is a clear path forward to cutting greenhouse emissions without the federal government leading the way.
And according to an analysis by Carbon Brief, if state and city governments continue to drag the country along to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement with or without our president and the EPA's participation, we just might make our goal as a nation.
More about Greenhouse gasses, emission levels, California, 2020 goals, Epa
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