Big news in the climate world yesterday as California Governor Jerry Brown announced ambitious 2030 targets for greenhouse gas emissions for the state:
The target, contained in an executive order and expected to be folded into pending legislation, seeks to reduce emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
The goal is in line with one adopted by the European Union last year, and proponents characterized it as the most aggressive in North America.
“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached – for this generation and generations to come,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
California is well on pace to meet our 2020 goals set forth by AB 32. But admittedly, we’ve had some winds at our back. The recession significantly cut energy demand and also seems to have reduced driving miles, although there could be multiple factors there. Cheap natural gas has also helped.
But make no mistake, California has encouraged significant progress on renewables and electric vehicle deployment, and is starting to make strides on energy storage as well. These will be critical technologies to meeting the governor’s 2030 goals. But the other big challenge will be the less sexy energy efficiency efforts, which so far the state has made only moderate progress on.
Still, with these goals, the path is now laid out for businesses, regulators and the public to follow. And California will provide a strong example for other states and countries by showing how to decarbonize the economy without hurting economic growth.