Lots of positive news these past few weeks on keeping global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius. Both the US and China have ratified the Paris COP21 climate agreement that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. The US agreed to cut emissions between 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Not to be outdone, Governor Brown signed SB32 into law last week, which sets the state’s emission reduction target at 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The law extends Assembly Bill 32 that had a goal of lowering emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Besides being the most ambitious climate target in the U.S., it sends a strong signal to the markets about the likely continuation of California’s Cap & Trade program.
This law also likely has implications for local jurisdictions. Lead agencies under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will continue to have to demonstrate that their projects will not impede California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goal. Many cities and counties have sought to demonstrate this through a climate action plan or relevant section of their general plan, but almost all of these plans have focused on the year 2020 and its goal. Of the limited number of local jurisdictions that have set goals for target years beyond 2020, few of their plans have proposed specific measures with concrete emission reductions. Local jurisdictions will likely need to revise their plans and add new emission reduction measures to be consistent with the state’s new standards. The good news is that there are many new strategies for reducing emissions that could be added to each plan as well as strengthening existing ones.
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