California set a record for greenhouse gas reductions in 2020, but it means nothing if California’s other greenhouse gas emission reductions aren’t equal. In some ways, that’s more likely to happen in 2020 than in 2019: as the state prepares for the upcoming election, voters will be asked to approve or reject the governor’s proposed “CARB-20” emissions reduction law. As I write this, the California Air Resources Board, the agency that will administer the statewide law, is in the process of developing a draft of the CARB-20. I’ll summarize its proposed rule later in the day. But here’s at least a preliminary taste of what’s to come: the CARB-20 would set a baseline target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 28 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, with certain additional goals on the way.
What would that mean for California? The 28 percent reduction would put California on track to meet its 1990 level of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020 and well on track to meet the 1990-level target by 2030. The CARB-20 is far more ambitious than the state’s earlier proposal to cut emissions by 21 percent by 2020, and far more ambitious than the California Air Resources Board’s own estimate of a 15 percent reduction, and a 16 percent reduction based on a federal rule that the state adopted in 2011. The state’s proposal is more ambitious still: it would push California to its highest target level since it achieved the 1990-level level in 1990, the year that the state ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty that established the international goal of keeping the global mean temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. The CARB-20 is also far more ambitious than the CARB-5 that the state adopted last year as part of its effort to become a net-zero emitter by 2050 and the goal the state set in its Climate Action Plan last January.
These higher targets, which would result in a 40 percent reduction by 2020, would leave California off track to meet the U.N.- and Trump administration-mandated goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to no more than a 5 percent increase in global warming by 2100 compared with what they were in 1990. A higher target would also mean California would need to reduce its emissions faster than the state has been trying to do since adopting its Climate Action Plan last January.
The state is doing everything it can to put