California announces new interim target to meet U.S. state’s 2050 emissions goal

California Governor Jerry Brown announced a new interim target for the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The current targets, which are from Assembly Bill 32, specify that the state needs to reach GHG emission levels of 1990 by 2020, and to reach 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The interim target is that the state must reach 40% below 1990’s GHG emission levels by 2030.

According to the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), California is on track to meet its 2020 goal. Programs such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the Advanced Clean Air Standard and Cap-and-Trade have contributed to this.

Executive Order B-30-15, which announced this interim target, also laid out other instructions for state agencies to help reach the interim target. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) will need to express the 2030 target in terms of million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Also, the CNRA will need to update the climate adaptation strategy, called Safeguarding California, every three years, identifying vulnerabilities to climate change in various sectors, including water, energy, transportation, public health, agriculture, emergency services, forestry, biodiversity and habitat, ocean and coastal resources.

According to the Air Resources Board, this interim target is necessary because “the path taken to achieve necessary science-based targets in 2050 is just as important as achieving the 2050 target itself.”

Having clarity in the targets between 2020 and 2050 also helps with market certainty, the ARB said, which fosters investment and industrial growth.

The target of reducing GHG emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 is in line with limiting global warming below 2 degrees centigrade. Brown outlined several other goals in January for the state to accomplish by 2030, which are in line with reducing GHG emissions: increasing renewable electricity to 50%, reducing petroleum use in cars and trucks by 50% and doubling the energy efficiency savings of current buildings.