California emissions fell faster than state mandate

Source: By Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

California’s greenhouse gas pollution is falling faster than the state mandates, officials said yesterday.

For the first time since the state started tracking its emissions, its grid used more electricity from renewable sources than fossil fuels. The data is from 2017, the most recent year available.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said the California economy grew at the same time.

“California is proving that smart climate policies are good for our economy and good for the planet,” he said in a statement. “As the Trump Administration attempts to obliterate national climate protections, California will continue advancing the cause of American climate leadership.”

The data shows emissions totaled 424 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2017, down 5 million metric tons from 2016. That’s below the reduction target of 431 million metric tons.

A 2006 law, A.B. 32, required getting emissions below 1990 levels by next year. The state reached that goal in 2016. S.B. 32, enacted in 2016, requires cutting greenhouse gas pollution 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

California’s economy grew at 3.6% in 2017, or 1.4% above the national average, according to the state Department of Finance.

The biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions was the transportation sector at 37%. That sector’s emissions rose 0.7% in 2017; it went up 2% the preceding year. Most of the increase in emissions came from passenger vehicles.

Livestock emitted more than 50% of methane pollution in California. Methane has up to 25 times the heat-trapping capacity than CO2. Though some dairy methane emissions declined, small annual increases in overall methane emissions continued. That comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned the world must make drastic changes to food systems and land use in order to curb climate change.

Industrial pollution ranked second at 21% for total emissions. Oil and gas refineries and hydrogen production constituted one-third of that pollution. The rest came mostly from oil and gas extraction, cement plants, glass manufacturers, and large food processors.