It is no secret that nations with substantial economies also emit large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and California, though not a nation, does likewise.
Fact is, if an independent country the Golden State were, it would have the world’s sixth largest economic output. Added to that, many know California to be the world’s 12th or 15th or 20th largest greenhouse-gases emitter; what ranking they know to be true this, of course, based on either having firsthand knowledge of, or such being ascertained from whatever the resource used that provided what information. More importantly, to have economic activity on the scale that California does and to have achieved the kinds of emissions-reduction successes the state has chalked up, speaks volumes about a place, be it city, state or what-have-you. Which is why if not already doing so (and it almost goes without saying), a number of cities, states, provinces, whole countries even, should be taking note. For the record, California’s current annual GHG emissions output is approximately 441.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent units (MMTCO2e).
End of the story? Hardly.
Greenhouse-gas and air-pollutant emissions aren’t confined to America’s most populated state; it’s an issue that has become of considerable concern and importance in many places in the world, a problem affecting developed and developing nations alike and World Health Organization estimates has the number dying prematurely as a result of such reaching into the multi-millions per year. Coupled with population growth being what it is along with other factors, without constant monitoring and vigilant intervention and remediation, the impacts from polluted air doubtless would be worse than what they are right now.
Such vigilance is paying off, particularly as exemplified in California, a model for the world.
As a case in point, Executive Order B-30-15 (issued by California Governor Jerry Brown), establishes a mid-term (2030) target to reduce GHGs to 40 percent below what they were in 1990. Meanwhile, as it has to do with a scoping plan related to this, in an Apr. 29, 2015 press statement released by California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) Chairperson Mary D. Nichols, it was expressed:
“‘With this bold action by the Governor California extends its leadership role and joins the community of states and nations that are committed to slash carbon pollution through 2030 and beyond. Building on our existing climate programs, the 40 percent reduction will drive and accelerate innovation, generate new jobs, improve air quality and hasten California’s transition to a clean energy economy,’” the ARB chairperson announced.
“The 2030 target represents reductions needed to ensure California can achieve its larger 2050 target of a reduction of greenhouse gases 80 percent below 1990 levels. The need for these reductions is supported by the latest science on climate change.”
The news release goes on to say that what causes planet warming is due mainly to anthropogenic influence. The impacts of the warming of the world can be seen in California in a number of ways, among them, a decreased Sierra snowpack, a rise in sea level and an increase in both drought and wildfire intensity, according to ARB.
Which is the reason exactly why eyes should be focused on and attention turned to California and what the state is doing as it relates to addressing emissions and its ability to maintain a strong, vibrant economy, all while engaged in the pollution-reduction crusade. Even though many doubtless are, there are probably many more collective bodies that are not and, by virtue of this, an opportunity is indeed being missed.
It is one thing to just talk the air-cleaning talk; it is entirely another to walk the air-cleanup walk, which the Golden State is doing.
In Part 2, it will be seen why California is a leader nonpareil among states in the approaches it is taking to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and in the cleanup of its air.
– Alan Kandel