Climate change is rapidly accelerating in California, state report says.
This fall, California’s new state climate assessment will help lawmakers and decision makers decide how to respond to the state’s growing greenhouse gas emissions.
The report recommends cutting greenhouse gases in a variety of ways: by more than 20 percent in transportation, electricity-generation and other sectors; by about 27 percent in agriculture, forestry and fishing; and by almost 40 percent in buildings, factories and other industries.
California’s overall greenhouse gas emissions are growing: The state’s total emissions—combined from transportation, buildings and industry—are projected to nearly double in 10 years, reaching 781 million metric tons per year by 2050.
And those emissions are growing by nearly 30 percent a year: In 2014, the state added 33,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) to the atmosphere—an amount comparable to all the energy used by a small country like Yemen, according to a recent study by the University of California, Davis.
Despite the state’s historic commitment to environmental protection, California’s energy sector emits significantly more greenhouse gas pollution than those in other states, according to the report and other data.
The new report’s findings are based on a combination of modeling and empirical data. It was written by the Berkeley Institute for Energy Policy and the Climate Institute, and is published by the state’s Clean Energy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.
State agencies are required to make climate change adaptation recommendations in the new report. It recommends that policymakers adopt policies—such as building energy-efficiency measures that could result in energy savings of $2.5 billion a year—to increase the number of California consumers who choose to use renewable energy.
But the report also makes several recommendations about how to respond to the changing climate: to reduce emissions enough to avoid the most dangerous parts of climate change (such as coastal flooding), to move to a lower-carbon economy (and to do more to help the state’s poorer communities).
“The report is an essential contribution to climate policy,” said Ed Mierzwinski, the Climate Institute’s executive director. “We’re all in this together.”
Below, a transcript of excerpts from the report.