Green Power, Cleaner Cars, Carbon Trading in California's Future

SACRAMENTO, California, June 29, 2008 (ENS) – By the year 2020, California utilities will produce a third of their energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, under a draft plan to address climate change released Thursday by the California Air Resources Board.

Overall, the Climate Change Draft Scoping Plan aims to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next 12 years. to accomplish this goal, the plan utilizes both new and existing measures and is designed with strong elements of monitoring and enforcement.

“With the release of this draft scoping plan, California is once again blazing a trail to lead other states and the nation to address climate change,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the Air Resources Board. “Our economy and our society face no greater threat than global warming.”

Development of the Scoping Plan is a central requirement of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Central to the draft plan is a cap-and-trade program covering 85 percent of the state’s emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

This program will be developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative [] to create a regional carbon market among seven states and three Canadian provinces.

The draft plan calls for full implementation of the California Clean Car law to provide less polluting and more efficient cars and trucks to consumers who will save on operating costs through reduced fuel use.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, this state law requires a waiver of less stringent federal standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which to date has refused to grant the waiver. Nor has Congress passed any legislation that would allow California to implement the fuel economy provisions of the Clean Car law.

The draft plan also calls for development and implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard [], which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger established by Executive Order in January 2007. It requires that carbon intensity of transportation fuels sold in the state be reduced by at least 10 percent by 2020.

Geothermal power is generated at
The Geysers, which covers 30
square miles in the Mayacamas
Mountains north of San Francisco,
the largest complex of geothermal
power plants in the world.
(Photo courtesy Calpine)

“This draft plan is the roadmap to move us quickly to a cleaner, more sustainable future, energy independence and a healthier environment,” Nichols said. “This plan fulfills the governor’s determination to act now, and it is based on the conviction that Californians will rise to the challenge and develop creative solutions to improve our environment and grow our economy.”

The draft plan encourages improvements to the ways Californians grow and build communities to make more livable, walkable cities, and shorten commutes.

It requres full deployment of the Governor’s Million Solar Roofs initiative, development of high-speed rail transport and a range of regulations to reduce emissions from trucks and from ships docked in California ports.

The draft plan also proposes to expand and strengthen existing energy efficiency programs and building and appliance standards that have saved Californians more than $50 billion over the past 30 years in reduced costs for energy.

It also calls on Californians to make changes to their personal behavior to reduce their carbon footprint through carpooling and simple actions such as adjusting thermostats to use less energy for heating and cooling and water-related energy efficiency measures.

Workshops are planned throughout the state to present the details of the plan to the general public and to allow California Air Resources Board, CARB, staff to hear public comments before writing a final draft.

The Environmental Defense Fund has already expressed its approval of the plan.

Derek Walker, director of the California Climate Initiative at Environmental Defense Fund, said, “The draft scoping plan presents a wide array of tools at California’s disposal to meet the law’s goals. The plan includes a robust, innovative combination of market-based mechanisms and traditional regulatory policies.”

“Between now and the Board’s final approval in November,” said Walker, “we look forward to working with CARB and other stakeholders to expand the recommendations to capture vital, cost-effective emissions reductions from all sectors of California’s economy.”

Once the final draft is prepared, it will go to the California Air Resources Board for consideration in November.

After adoption of the plan, all measures in the plan will be thoroughly vetted and analyzed, with full public input, over the next two years as they move through the regulatory process.

Preliminary economic modeling of the plan indicates that the overall savings from improved efficiency and the development of alternatives to petroleum will on the whole outweigh the costs. The draft plan recommends targeted fees to fund the state’s long-term commitment to AB 32 administration.

To view the Climate Change Draft Scoping Plan, click here [].

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