California could achieve greater emission reductions by 2030

A new model of the impact of California’s existing and proposed policies on its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals suggests that the state is on track to meet 2020 goals, and could achieve greater emission reductions by 2030, but the state will need to do more to reach its 2050 climate goals.

“The big news here is that not only will California meet its 2020 reduction goals under AB 32, but it could achieve reductions of at least 40 percent below that level in the 2030 time frame,” said Jeffery Greenblatt, author of the study and a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The paper, “Modeling California policy impact on greenhouse gas emissions,” has been published in Energy Policy.

Greenblatt’s research is the first attempt to comprehensively model all relevant policies in order to assess their combined effect on reducing California GHG emissions, especially through 2030.

The state’s AB 32 legislation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires a reduction in state GHG emissions by 2020 to its 1990 level of 431 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent per year (MtCO2e/year). Additionally, California Executive Order S-3-05 sets a target of reducing state GHG emissions to 80 percent below this level by 2050. Other state legislation governs specific areas such as transportation, electricity, and fuels.

Greenblatt’s new model, dubbed CALGAPS (California LBNL GHG Analysis of Policies Spreadsheet), indicates that GHG emissions through 2020 could range from 317 to 415 MtCO2e/year, all still below the AB 32 target, “indicating that existing state policies will likely allow California to meet its target,” he said.

By 2030, emissions could range from 211 to 428 MtCO2e/year. “Even if all modeled policies are not implemented, reductions could be sufficient to reduce emissions 40 percent below the 1990 level,” Greenblatt said.