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Op-ed: California has a long way to go on climate policy

California State Capitol by Andre m
Image Credit: Andre M.

By Jacques Leslie, Los Angeles Times


  • California’s cap-and-trade program alone won’t be sufficient to reach the state’s goals, including its mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Energy Innovation, a San Francisco think tank, spent more than two years developing a computer model called an Energy Policy Simulator to measure the efficacy of various policies for reaching the state’s 2030 goals. The model has six proposals that would generate $21 billion in net economic and social benefits over the next decade
  • Four of Energy Innovation’s six proposals would strengthen existing policies, including increasing the cap-and-trade program’s carbon price floor from its current impotent level of $16.68 per ton of carbon emissions. A recent World Bank report recommended a $40 to $80 price range.
  • The computer modelers recommend combining multiple strategies and building on existing mandates, including:
    • Requiring 70% carbon-free electricity by 2030 (a 10% increase from current law)
    • Increasing the state’s vehicle standard from 5 million to 7.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030
    • Requiring that 80% of new cars sold in 2030 are electric
    • Accelerating building electrification, including replacing residential natural gas space and water heaters with electric heat pumps
  • New initiatives are also needed such as a zero-emission standard for heat used in industrial processing, which would force the carbon-intensive cement industry to decarbonize

The Climate Center follows key legislation in California to advocate for the support and funding of key climate legislation for rapid decarbonization.