California passes far-reaching statewide emission target for 2030

Following a positive vote by the California State Senate in late August, Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday (Sept. 8)  signed a new climate change bill setting a statewide emission reduction for 2030. Senate Bill 32 (SB 32), which will become effective in January 2017, mandates a 40 percent emissions reduction from 1990 levels by 2030.

“What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” Brown said at a signing ceremony at Vista Hermosa Natural Park in downtown Los Angeles, according to Los Angeles Times. “California is doing something that no other state has done.”

The landmark bill has strengthened the commitments made under the 2006’s Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32), which requires an emissions reduction by 2020 equal to 1990 levels. According to the California Air Resources Board (ARB), California is already on track to reach the 2020 goal as emissions decreased by 1,5 million metric tons in 2013 compared with the previous year.

One of the main mechanisms to achieve the new emission target is the existing cap-and-trade program, launched by ARB in 2012. The first nation-wide cap-and-trade program was designed to put California on the path to meet the initial emission target, but has recently experienced a number of political and legal challenges, including the downfall of carbon permits price and illegality claims. In that light, the Senate has paired SB 32 with an accompanying bill, AB 197, which increases the legislative oversight of ARB and ensures transparency regarding the state’s emissions reduction actions.

In addition to the Assembly Bill 32 and its present-day amendments (such as SB 32), California has passed numerous laws aimed at cutting emissions, such as the 2015 Golden State Standards on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Nonetheless, in order to reach the 40 percent emission target, it might be necessary to scale up California’s climate change action. According to Greenblatt, it would require reaching more ambitious climate targets, such as, for instance, a 50 percent renewable energy share of California’s electricity production by 2030.

California’s historical emissions and targets under AB 32 and SB 32. (Adapted from Greenblatt, 2015 by


(Image:Windy, April 2015. Photo credit: Russ Allison Loar/Flickr)