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Greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions are a big deal in California. With more than 3,400 miles of coastline, the state remains extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. Drought conditions have plagued California for 6 straight years. And seasonal wildfires are no longer seasonal – they happen every month now.

In other words, California takes climate change very seriously.

In fact, the state’s GHG reduction targets are well ahead of the pack, with many individual cities in California boasting even more ambitious environmental goals. San Diego, for example, recently unveiled a Climate Action Plan to transform itself into a clean power center.

But we’re happy to announce that California’s governor, Jerry Brown, just signed a new piece of legislation that sets even stricter greenhouse gas targets. And we hope this bold move inspires other states to take swift action as well.

A Closer Look at California’s New GHG Reduction Goals

There are actually 2 separate but complementary bills that were recently signed into law last week:

  • Senate Bill 32 calls for a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to levels last seen in 1990). That’s a huge drop in pollution in such a short time.
  • Assembly Bill 197 establishes a legislative body to ensure that the above targets are reached.

Remember that California already had GHG reduction goals before, with the state hoping to reduce pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. In order to reach a 40% drop by 2030, the state will now have to act “3 times as fast as [it has] so far” – according to the director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford, James Sweeney.

Achieving speeds like that won’t be easy. But it’s definitely doable.

California already has nearly 14,000 MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed, with the number of new installations increasing at a breathtaking rate. Each additional kilowatt of solar capacity helps to reduce the state’s reliance on traditional grid electricity – most of which comes from fossil fuel combustion.

It also helps that California has nearly a quarter million electric vehicles (EV’s) on the road, and their numbers continue to rise as well.

These vehicles aren’t automatically better for the environment. It depends on how they’re charged:

  • When plugged into the utility grid, EV still generate a lot of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
  • But when charged with solar, wind, or geothermal energy, the carbon footprint of EV’s shrinks to zero.

So while a 40% GHG reduction may seem overly ambitious, this goal is well within reach. By encouraging consumer-side adoption of solar PV and EV’s, California can move away from its carbon-based economy to build a cleaner and more sustainable future.