California Governor Jerry Brown announced last week a new plan for reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. The executive order calls on the Golden State to decrease carbon emission rates by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.
“I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” the governor told onlookers when he announced the executive order last week.
The goal sets a national precedent and is on par with the benchmark set in place by the European Union last year — the most ambitious target in the world.
Executive orders aren’t technically law, but rather set mandates around which legislation can be written.
The proposal will serve as an interim goal established by the governor as the state works toward reaching its target of reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
That’s the more long term plan laid out in Senate Bill 32, legislation introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) at the end of last year.
What does the governor’s announcement mean for the state? Getting halfway to that 2050 benchmark within the next 15 years.
Has the governor set the bar too high, or is this simply an expression of his faith in California’s climate change policy?
“This is basically saying we need a new industrial revolution,” Dan Kammen, Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley told NBC Bay Area. “The last one took about 150 years. Now we need to do it between now and 2050.”
Kammen says despite the ambitious target, the state can reach the governor’s goal, but getting there by 2030 isn’t going to be easy.
California has already begun plucking at the ‘low hanging fruit’ to bring carbon levels down, like incentivizing cleaner cars, implementing stingier fuel standards and promoting renewable energies—the state sources 24 percent of its power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power. In light of the governor’s new demand, Kammen says California must majorly increase its use of these technologies, and leverage them in new ways.
“Finding ways to do these things together is really kind of the magic of California innovation on the technical and policy side,” he said. “Because the more we can find opportunities to do both of these things together, like electric vehicles charged up by solar, wind and other renewables, that means that you win twice over. That’s literally a win-win strategy.”
According to figures from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the state’s carbon emissions dropped nearly 7 percent between 2004 and 2012, the year that data is most recently available. If the state keeps at the same rate, it will actually beat the 2020 carbon emissions benchmark set forth by CARB.
So for now, California is ahead of the game in making carbon reductions.
But the real challenge as meeting Governor Brown’s benchmark comes into action will be convincing everyday citizens to play a significant role in cutting back on emissions, said Abby Young, Climate Policy Manager at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Most of the energy nationwide — around 70 percent — is consumed in buildings, and the Bay Area is home to a number of older office spaces and residential properties. Due to their age, these types of buildings are rarely energy efficient.
While requirements have been established for new construction to meet energy efficiency standards, real progress could mean state and local governments incentivizing homeowners to jump on board with retrofitting their homes, Young said. That means installing solar panels and taking other steps to increase energy efficiency, she added.
“What’s great about the governor making this kind of bold statement is it motivates and inspires…individuals to realize how important the individual behaviors and actions they take every day are to helping the state meet this goal,” Young said.
Mobility on-demand vehicle (MODV) services have grown explosively in recent years, threatening targets for local air pollution and global carbon emissions. Despite evidence that on-demand automotive fleets are ripe for electrification, adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in fleet applications has been hindered by lack of charging infrastructure and long charging times. Recent research on electrification programs in Chinese megacities suggests that top-down policy targets can spur investment in charging infrastructure, while intelligent charging coordination can greatly reduce requirements for battery range and infrastructure, as well as revenue losses due to time spent charging. Such capability may require labor policy reform to allow fleet operators to manage their drivers’ charging behavior, along with collection and integration of several key datasets including: 1) vehicle trajectories and energy consumption, 2) charging infrastructure installation costs, and 3) real-time charging station availability. In turn, digitization enabled by fleet electrification holds the potential to enable a host of smart urban mobility strategies, including integration of public transit with innovative transportation systems and emission-based pricing policies.
For the original article, click here. Reports from Italy detail the grim reality of a nation on lockdown. All businesses but pharmacies and food stores have shut their doors. Airlines are canceling flights, and roadblocks prevent people from leaving or entering some towns. It presents a glimpse of how dramatically American life could change if COVID-19 spreads rapidly in the United States. Many U.S. cities are already encouraging "social distancing" practices. Schools and universities are temporarily closing or switching to remote learning platforms. Conferences, music festivals and other public events are being canceled or going virtual. These kinds of disruptions stand to get more severe in the coming weeks. They could also come with an unexpected side effect: an impact on carbon emissions. The spreading virus has caused a dip in global greenhouse gas emissions. Reasons include a temporary blow to industrial activities in China, falling demand for oil and a decline in air travel. In China, the world's largest carbon emitter, experts estimate that emissions over the past month have been about 25% lower than normal. These effects aren't wholly unexpected. History suggests that global disasters, particularly those with major effects on the economy, tend to drive a temporary decline in carbon emissions. The 2008 recession, for instance, was accompanied by a temporary dip in global carbon emissions. On a local scale, the climate impact of an epidemic is more complex — it's likely to hinge on a wide variety of changes in the way people carry out their daily lives, from how often they leave their homes to how they travel around their cities to how they do their shopping. Scientists are still working to understand how fast the new coronavirus will spread, how it might respond to the changing weather and why it affects some demographics more severely than others. As it turns out, the virus may also teach scientists something about the complex relationships among everyday human behaviors, their response to large-scale disasters, and their carbon footprints. "Pull one string here, and it affects everything else," said Christopher Jones, a climate policy expert at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead developer at the CoolClimate Network, a research consortium focused on tools to reduce carbon emissions. "With the economy and carbon footprints, they're so interrelated that you really quickly start to have all these complex interactions."
Agriculture can play a huge role in sequestering carbon and decreasing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Up to now, though, there has been little financial incentive for farmers to do so, due to the inability to measure carbon in the soil. That’s changing, though. Last June, Indigo announced its Terraton Initiative that aims to pay farmers for carbon sequestration. In the following article, Ed Smith, vice president of Indigo Carbon and Terraton, and Dan Harburg, senior director of systems innovation for Indigo, discuss Indigo’s partnerships with the carbon registries developed by Verra and the Climate Action Reserve.
For US News & World Report, click here. by Alan Neuhauser
"CO2 negative – yeah, right. It's a big sham ... There's no proof that there's actually anything captured by anything."
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