Since I did the look-back on 2015 yesterday, now’s the time to offer the three big things to watch in 2016 on the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
3. Presidential Election: This is huge, as the current leading Republican candidate would say. The November election will determine whether the US sticks with the Paris agreement, continues support for renewable technologies and corresponding lack of support for coal, and fights for the EPA Clean Power Plan. The EPA finally released this plan in 2015, as required by a 2007 Supreme Court decision, and the plan underlies the US commitment to greenhouse gas reduction enshrined in the Paris agreement. While the final legal outcome won’t happen for a few more years (it will assuredly go to the Supreme Court), a Republican administration will try to gut the proposed rule from within.
2. Electric Vehicle Progress: As I mentioned yesterday, electric vehicle sales were down in 2015. But with the new Chevy Volt coming out, a slightly improved LEAF, and the much-hyped Tesla Model X all hitting the road, it will be important to see progress on the sales front this year. As a related honorable mention, we’ll need to see continued decreases in battery prices, not just for vehicles but for energy storage more generally.
1. California’s SB 32 2030 Climate Goals: The state has been an international leader fighting climate change, thanks to 2006’s AB 32, which set carbon reduction goals for 2020. But the effort to extend and ramp up the targets by 2030 failed spectacularly in the Assembly last year. It’s vital for the climate fight that the law pass this year. Otherwise, existing legal authorities to continue carbon reduction beyond 2020 are weak, and the signal a failure would send to the country and world would be detrimental. Meanwhile, the state would risk undermining the progress it has made nurturing in-state clean technology industries. While federal action on climate is important, California’s role as the guinea pig and pioneer on climate has been central to showing leaders in advanced economies how to decarbonize while growing the economy.
And with that, let’s see what the new year brings.