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California Isn’t Cutting Enough Greenhouse Gases for 2030 Goal

If the current reduction rate continues, the state will achieve its 2030 goal in 2063. The state will need to more than double its yearly cuts in emissions to meet the original target.

(TNS) — California is not cutting greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet a 2030 deadline for reductions, according to a new report.

At the state's current rate of progress, California will miss that deadline by several decades.

The 2021 California Green Innovation Index, released by the nonprofit group Next 10 and prepared by Beacon Economics, reveals that California reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 percent from 2018 to 2019. Between 2017 and 2019, the state averaged a greenhouse gas emission decrease of 1.3 percent per year, far below what is needed to meet California's greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for 2030 and 2050.

"Assuming the same three-year average rate of reduction from 2017 to 2019 (-1.3 percent), California will reach its 2030 and 2050 goals in 2063 and 2111, respectively," according to the report.

In order to meet the 2030 goal, the state would have to see its emissions reduced by 4.3 percent each year from 2019 to to 2030, more than double the year-over-year reductions recorded in recent years.

The single-biggest contributor to the state's emissions was the transportation sector, accounting for 40.7 percent of all emissions in the state, according to the report.

However, California may see a drop in transportation sector-related emissions for 2020 and 2021. The COVID-19-related shift to work from home resulted in a nationwide emissions dip of 15 percent for 2020.

" California could expect to see a similar level of decline in transportation emissions through 2020 and into 2021," the report says, though it adds that that data is not yet available.

The second-greatest contributor to California's greenhouse gas emissions were wildfires.

"Wildfires have always been a feature of the California environment, but they have been producing more (greenhouse gas) emissions than ever, fueled by the impacts of climate change," according to the report.

In 2020, emissions from wildfires were greater than emissions from any other sector except transportation, with the August Complex Fire alone producing more emissions than the entire commercial sector.

The commercial and residential sectors also continued to increase the amount of emissions produced. From 2014 to 2019, commercial greenhouse gas emissions rose from 4.8 percent to 5.8 percent, while residential emissions rose from 6.1 percent to 7.9 percent.

Another contributor to California's greenhouse gas emissions? The state's declining recycling rate.

Californians sent 42.6 million tons of waste to landfills in 2019, an increase of 2.7 million tons from the year prior. Meanwhile, California's recyling rate was down to 37 percent in 2019, far below the 75 percent goal for 2020, according to the report.

"2020's recycling rate is expected to be even lower, as the pandemic has led to an increase in one-time use disposables," the report said.

Though California has met its target goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020, the report shows that renewable energy growth has slowed in recent years. In 2020, the state added more gas power capacity (1.5 gigawatts) than any other source, including solar (1.3 gigawatts).

Electricity generation from wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric sources actually decreased in 2020, making up 45.3 percent of the state's power mix, down a full percentage point from the year previous.

"To meet California's goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2026, the state's share of electricity generation from renewables would need to increase by 2.8 percent annually," said Patrick Adler, research manager at Beacon Economics, in a statement.

"But the percentage of California's total power mix from renewable energy resources crept upward by just 1.4 percent in 2020 — driven largely by the retirement of older and less efficient fossil fuel power plants, as opposed to the addition of new renewable energy resources. So, there's a lot of work to be done."

(c)2021 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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