California poised to hit 2020 carbon emissions target. Will other places do as California is doing?

In the last post, emphasized was how without across-the-board agreement come December at the climate-change conference in Paris, France, the likelihood that the world will be on a path to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to generally agreed-upon levels (the presumed consequences of not doing so being the earth reaching what is tantamount to the proverbial global warming point of no return – the tipping point), is slim to none. So, it remains to be seen what comes of the gathering there in December, roughly six months away.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S. and out west, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in a Jun. 30, 2015 news release reports the state is on track to meet its greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction goal of bringing GHGs in the air to the level they were in 1990 by 2020.

“The Air Resources Board today released the latest edition of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory, which shows that emissions fell by 1.5 million metric tons in 2013 compared with the previous year even while the economy grew at 2.0 percent, a rate greater than the national average,” reported ARB.

Diesel-smoke[1]“After rising during the 2000s, the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2008 as a result of the recession. The decline leveled off from 2009 to 2011 and increased by 2 percent in 2012, due in part to the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and a drop in hydropower generation. The drop in hydropower has now been completely replaced by in-state wind and solar power. The 2013 inventory shows a decline of 1.5 million metric tons in emissions compared with 2012.”

ARB went on to report that the industrial and energy sectors experienced a slight improvement. Per-capita GHGs improved as well. The transportation sector went the other way, backsliding some. ARB notes that the primary source of the rise in transportation GHG was due to increased diesel truck use.

The distribution of produced GHG emissions among the various sectors is as follows:

  • Transportation – 37%
  • Industrial – 23%
  • Electricity generation (In State) – 11%
  • Electricity generation (Imports) – 9%
  • Agriculture – 8%
  • Residential – 7%
  • Commercial – 5%
  • Not Specified – <1%

(Source: “California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory – 2015 Edition,” California Air Resources Board,

The GHG emissions breakdown most prevalent to least prevalent is as follows:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) – 84%
  • Methane (CH4) – 9%
  • HGWP (High Global Warming Potential) emissions – 4%
  • Nitrous oxide (N2O) – 3%

(Source: “California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory – 2015 Edition,” California Air Resources Board,

“California has developed an integrated set of programs to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32 [California Assembly Bill 32: the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006],” explained ARB in the release. “The primary programs are the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the Advanced Clean Cars program, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and the Cap-and-Trade program. Reductions also result from numerous energy efficiency and conservation programs.”

Added ARB: “California has also joined with a growing list of states and provinces from around the world in a first-of-its-kind agreement to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. To date, 14 states have signed the so-called ‘Under 2 MOU,’ which provides a template for the world’s nations to follow as work continues toward an international agreement at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.”


Department of corrections: Under “The GHG emissions breakdown most prevalent to least prevalent is as follows:” section above, N2O was identified as Nitrogen dioxide. The article has since been updated and includes text revision.

Published by Alan Kandel