California has hit a significant milestone in its fight against greenhouse gas emissions.
The most populous state in the nation, California, has slashed its greenhouse gas emissions far earlier than its original schedule. According to data released by the California Air Resources Board, the state was able to cut back on emissions by about 2.7 percent to 429.4 million metric tonnes in 2016.
The drop in the state’s emissions was not expected until 2020. This only ensures that California is on the right path towards achieving its ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
Based on ARB’s data, California’s emissions dropped 13 percent below its peak levels of 493.7 million metric tonnes in 2004. The state’s law requires that California reduce its emissions to 431 million metric tonnes by 2020. The former was the state’s recorded emissions level back in 1990. This should be reached while California continuously grows its economy — now hailed as the fifth-largest in the world.
According to Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials, the data only proves that California’s carbon laws and regulations are succeeding. It also shows that the state can fight climate change while taking advantage of its booming economy.
“This is great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment, and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change,” Mary Nichols, the Air Resources Board Chair, said in a statement.
The state’s successful carbon reduction was partly due to its growing dependence on renewable energy. In fact, a report from the Associated Press noted that California increased its solar electricity generation by 33 percent in 2016 because of the state-wide adoption of rooftop arrays and solar power plants.
However, California still has to work on the gas emissions produced by its vehicles. While the state plans to put about 1.5 million electric cars on its roads by 2025, the transportation emissions remain high due to low gas prices.
Still, the impressive result of its efforts to fight climate change puts California in a better position than the rest of the country, eventually meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement even without direct participation.