California set a record for greenhouse gas reductions in 2020, but it means nothing if the state is unable to achieve its target of cutting its emissions by a third below 1990 levels.
The state needs to cut its emissions to 43% below 1990 levels by 2020 – below the U.S. target of a 26% cut, and the global average of 26%. But to achieve that, California must meet or exceed a target for state emissions growth of only 0.9% per year from 2021 to 2030 through a mix of new projects, technology improvements and new energy efficiency.
The state must make additional reductions in the future, but it will need to do so with less certainty and slower growth than the federal government has assumed.
This year California set its first-ever clean-energy standard for all state buildings under Chapter 20.5C of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires buildings to use at least 50% of their energy from solar and wind power, and 50% of their energy from renewable energy sources, by 2020. The state targets for 2020 are far higher than either the previous target (30% of energy) or the federal standard (15% of energy) under the federal law.
California’s targets for 2020 are similar to the federal law’s goal of a 15% target for buildings, which would bring in 3.8% of its energy from renewables. By 2020, California’s targets for buildings are a bit lower than previous targets under the state’s 2007 solar incentive law, but this is because other policies, such as building regulations and a requirement that all buildings be net-energy efficient in 2020, are new. Under the 2007 solar incentive law, the state would have the highest target for buildings with respect to the percentage of energy from renewable sources that it now has – a 15% goal. (As of 2009, the state had a 24.5% goal for buildings under the state’s 2007 solar incentive law).
But while both California and the federal law set ambitious goals, they use different measures to determine what energy will be counted as