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The facts on California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases and move toward a clean, green economy

The Climate Change Scoping Plan is the state’s roadmap to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals required in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. This plan calls for an ambitious but achievable reduction in California’s carbon footprint – toward a clean energy future. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels means cutting approximately 30% from business-as-usual emissions levels projected for 2020, or about 15% from today’s levels. On a per-capita basis, that means reducing annual emissions of 14 tons of carbon dioxide for every man, woman and child in California down to about 10 tons per person by 2020. This challenge also represents an opportunity to transform California’s economy into one that runs on clean and sustainable technologies, helping secure our energy independence and security, and ensure that all Californians are able to enjoy their rights to clean air, clean water, and a healthy and safe environment.


Cap-and-Trade Program: Broad-based to provide a firm limit on emissions; covers 85% of California’s emissions: electricity generation, large industrial sources, transportation fuels, and residential and commercial use of natural gas, and provides regional linkage with the Western Climate Initiative which allows greater environmental and economic benefits. Air Resources Board. Transportation: Reduction of 30% in vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by 2016 (known as the ‘Pavley standards’) followed by further reductions from 2017. Decrease 10% by 2020 carbon intensive vehicle fuels through the low-carbon fuel standard. Lastly, changes in the way we build, plan and develop our cities through better land-use planning (SB 375). Other transportation measures include more efficient delivery trucks, heavy duty trucks and goods movement. Air Resources Board, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Office of Planning and Research.
Electricity and Energy (imported included): Improved appliance efficiency standards and other aggressive energy efficiency measures; 33% renewables by 2020; increased use of efficient “combined heat and power”; Million Solar Roofs, Solar Hot Water Heating; Green Buildings; and water efficiency. Air Resources Board, State and Consumer Services Agency, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Department of Water Resources. Industry: 800 largest emission sources in California including cement; audit of the largest industrial sources to identify greenhouse gas reduction opportunities; regulations on refinery flaring, and fugitive emissions; considerations for cement to address “leakage.” Air Resources Board, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.
High Global Warming Potential Gases: Capture refrigerants and other high global warming potential gases already in use; reduce future impact through leak-resistant equipment, restrictions on use, and fees. High global warming chemicals trap heat in the atmosphere at levels many times that of carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global warming. Air Resources Board. Forestry: Preserve forest sequestration and voluntary reductions possible from forestry projects. Air Resources Board, Cal-Fire.
Agriculture: More efficient agricultural equipment, fuel use and water use through transportation and energy measures; reductions from manure digesters at dairies; address impacts on productivity of crops and livestock. Air Resources Board, California Department of Food and Agriculture, State Water Resources Control Board. Waste and Recycling: Reduce methane emissions from landfills and move toward high recycling and zero waste. Air Resources Board, Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.


The plan generates jobs, promotes a growing, clean-energy economy and a healthy environment for California at the same time.

The plan expands California’s successful track record of saving money through efficiency.


The plan helps reduce risks that could be costly to California.

The plan relies on a strong network of climate partnerships – so California is not going it alone.

The plan promotes improved public health, lowers health care costs.


By Jan 1, 2009 Air Resources Board (ARB) adopts plan indicating how emission reductions will be achieved from significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions. During 2009-11 ARB staff drafts rule language to implement its plan and holds a series of public workshops on each measure (including market mechanisms).
By Jan 1, 2010 Early action measures take effect.
During 2010 ARB conducts series of rulemakings, after workshops and public hearings, to adopt greenhouse gas emissions regulations including rules governing market mechanisms.
By Jan 1, 2011 ARB completes major rulemakings for reducing greenhouse gas emissions including market mechanisms. ARB may revise the rules and adopt new ones after Jan. 1, 2011 in furtherance of the 2020 cap.
By Jan 1, 2012 Greenhouse gas emissions rules and market mechanisms adopted by ARB take effect and are legally enforceable.
Dec 31, 2020 Deadline for achieving 2020 greenhouse gas emissions cap.


The plan will create a more efficient California and grow the economy:
  • More efficient cars cost less to drive
  • More efficient buildings use fewer resources
  • More efficient homes and appliances use less energy
  • More efficient land use means less time driving, less fuel used and more transit opportunities
  • More efficient factories produce less pollution
  • More efficient faucets, sprinklers and shower heads protect our water resources
Fighting climate change will help:
  • Reduce our dependence on oil
  • Protect human health
  • Protect California’s forests, ocean and wildlife
  • Conserve precious natural resources
  • Reduce air pollution
  • Promote the development of clean, locally-produced energy
  • Create new jobs for California workers in clean tech industries
  • Increase energy efficiency, which will save us all money on what we pay for energy
  • Create more livable, walkable cities