California cuts emissions below 2000 levels while GDP grows: on track for AB32 targets

Beth Woodthorpe-Evans
Reading time: 3 minutes
6 July 2015

NEW YORK: Member of The Climate Group States & Regions AllianceCalifornia – is well on track to achieving its 2020 emissions reduction target. State-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to be reduced while the economy grows, the California Air Resource Board reports.

The state of California first set out its emissions reduction target in the landmark 2006 Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), referred to as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which The Climate Group played a key role in creating.

The state is now well on its way to reaching its interim target of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The latest edition of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows emissions in California fell by 1.5 million metric tons in 2013 compared with 2012, while the economy grew at a rate greater than the national average.

“State and regional governments like California are leading by example, spearheading climate solutions that can be replicated by governments around the world. California is one amongst many governments around the world who have decoupled GHG emissions from economic growth,” says Libby Ferguson, States and Regions Director, The Climate Group.

“With this latest data from California’s AB32 bill showing the state is well on track to achieve its emission reduction targets while it continues to top GDP growth in the US, we have yet more evidence of how transitioning to a low carbon future can co-exist with building a strong economy.”

California’s progress is driven by its cap-and-trade system, the first state in the nation to set an economy-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

The report notes other initiatives that have helped lower emissions, including doubling the energy efficiency of existing buildings and reducing petroleum consumption by cars and trucks in half by 2030.

As a result, the world’s seventh-largest economy is on a path to meeting its 2050 goal of reducing emissions by 80% below 1990 levels.

As a member of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance and one of 20 reporting entities to the Compact of States and Regions, which represents over 220 million people and US$8.3 trillion GDP in total, California is leading on climate during the crucial months before the global climate agreement is expected to be finalized at the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCCC (COP21) in Paris this December.

California has also been a leading government in the creation of the Under 2 MOU, a global agreement supported by The Climate Group that sets out long term emissions reductions commitments for limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

The Compact and the MOU are closely aligned. As the Compact provides mechanisms for governments to measure and report progress against their emissions reductions commitments, the MOU encourages sub-national governments to join together to make ambitious emissions reduction commitments in advance of Paris.

The first round of targets from the Compact of States & Regions were recently announced at the World Summit of Climate and Territories in Lyon, France. Up to 85 GHG reduction, energy efficiency and renewable targets and over 200 climate-recorded actions have been reported to the Compact so far, with more expected over the summer.

Governor of California, Jerry Brown is set to join sub-national governments at The Climate Summit of the Americas in Ontario, Toronto on July 7 - 9.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose province will host the Climate Summit of the Americas this week, said: “As we approach COP21, sub-national governments are taking the opportunity to learn from one another so we can advance our shared priorities and make real progress on this urgent and critical issue.”

Learn more about the Compact of States and Regions

The Climate Group States & Regions program brings together sub-national government leaders from around the world in a powerful, high-profile network that shares expertise, demonstrates impact and influences the international climate dialogue.

In 2008, The Climate Group published The Business Guide To The Low Carbon Economy: California to help businesses save money, reduce emissions and better understand AB-32.The Climate Group worked to build a coalition of business, government and local community organizations to ensure that California realizes the full potential of AB-32's vision and reaps the greatest possible economic benefits of its leadership position.

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by Andrew Pickens

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