Masters Thesis

California greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) goal attainability

To address its contribution to climate change, California has adopted landmark legislation such as EO S-3-05, AB 32, EO B-30-15, SB 32, and AB 197. Currently California is on track to meet the goal of reducing GHG emissions in 2020 to 1990 levels. However, there is speculation if California can meet the 2030 GHG emission reduction goal at 40% below 1990 levels and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. During this study, it was verified that California’s GHG emission levels are on track to meet the state’s 2020 goals. As of 2014, carbon intensity indexes had dropped over the previous four years. Per capita GHG emissions and emissions per GDP dropped significantly between 2000 and 2014. The general trend towards reduced GHG emissions is an indicator that GHG levels have continued to decline between 2014 and 2017. Public opinion, economic indicators, associated costs and policy implementers all suggest that GHG emission programs will continue to be successful, causing a desire to reach stated goals. To reach 2030 and 2050 GHG goals a reduction at nearly 3.8 times the amount achieved between 2006 and 2014 will be needed. It has been found that some of the emission reduction measures have occurred through emission leakage by electrical power imports which was not the intention of California’s policy. Public support for the Cap-and-Trade Program is lower than the average for environmental programs. Based on the Public Policy Institute of California’s survey regarding carbon pricing measures, the public desires to add a carbon tax. Recommendations are found in three parts to both influence legislation and policy: 1) Codify 2050 GHG Emission Goals 2) Implementation of a Carbon Tax 3) Increase administrative purview on the sale and purchase of electrical power across state lines.

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