My Q&A On Paris And The Subnational Climate Effort

IMG_2435UC Berkeley’s news outlet published a Q&A with me on the important role that California is playing in the Paris negotiations. Here’s an excerpt:

Could you elaborate on California’s leadership around climate change?

In 2006 California passed the first-in-the-nation law to limit our greenhouse gas emissions. Since then we’ve embarked on a suite of measures — investments, policies and programs — to bring down our carbon emissions. So far it’s been an interesting success story, and a great example for the international community, demonstrating that you can decarbonize and still increase economic growth.

We’re on pace to dramatically bolster our renewable energy supply. We have a very aggressive goal to get to 50 percent renewables by 2030, and we’re learning how to site these facilities better and to integrate the variable energy generated by solar and wind facilities. In terms of petroleum usage, California has 40 percent of the electric vehicle sales in the country, as well as strong sales of hybrid cars. We have some good state programs to encourage electric vehicle ownership.

On storage of surplus solar and wind energy, we have the only mandates in the country for utilities to buy a certain amount of energy storage. We’re seeing a huge growth in standalone batteries and other technologies, and we’re trying to build high-speed rail and to electrify more of our transportation. On energy efficiency, we have goals to double the efficiency of our existing buildings by 2030.

Since my expertise is on California’s climate efforts and not the international legal process, I may be overly biased toward the importance of what California is doing. But at the same time, the more time I spend at the Paris COP, the more I realize that all the technological and economic changes that are making climate mitigation achievable for so many countries is due to the leadership and market power of California.

Not that California gets all the credit, but it certainly couldn’t have happened without the state either.


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