Despite climate progress, California will meet 2050 goals 100 years later


Beacon Economics has released a new study which tracks carbon emissions and solutions being adopted to address climate change in California.

California is likely to meet its 2030 climate sustainability goals in 2061 and its 2050 targets more than 100 years later if the state does not accelerate its sustainability efforts from 2018 levels, according to the study.

The report is the 11th annual California Green Innovation Index and states that California needs to reduce emissions by an average of 4.51% each year.

Other key report findings include:

  • The annual increase in transportation emissions has slowed down slightly compared to the previous three years.
  • Vehicle miles travelled and GHG emissions from surface transportation per capita increased 0.5% and 0.1%, respectively, from 2016 to 2017.
  • In 2018, battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles accounted for 1.5% of all registered on-road vehicles in California, up from 1.1% in 2017.
  • 2018 wildfires in California produced an estimated nine times more emissions than were reduced across the entire state’s economy the year prior by producing 45.5 million metric tons of CO2 (MMTCO2) emissions.
  • While powerlines may not cause the most fires, they tend to cause the most destructive fires in terms of the number of structures destroyed.
  • California’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions per capita were 9.2 MTCO2e per person in 2016—the second-lowest among the 50 states.
  • The sta.te has reduced its per capita energy consumption by 10.2% since 1990.
  • Electricity consumption reached new highs in the residential and agricultural sectors in 2017. Electricity consumption in the residential sector grew by 4.3%—driven in part by an increase in plug-in electronic devices and EVs.
  • 2017 was the first time that the share of fossil fuel sources—coal, oil, and natural gas, fell below 40% of California’s power mix.
  • As of the end of 2018, California accounted for 44% of all small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) net generation in the US Small scale-solar PV generation increased 23% from 2017 to 2018 in both California and the rest of US.
  • Energy Storage patents in California increased by 65.6% year-over-year in 2018.
  • Electricity sector gains mask challenges from transportation, buildings, and industry.

Noel Perry, the founder of Next 10, said: “The 2019 Index is a call to action. The state has a great degree of control over its power mix, but there are several sectors that are harder to control—whether that be wildfires or sectors dependent on end-users’ consumption behaviours. Each choice we make about how to use our land, power our homes and buildings, and travel each day makes a difference. Transformative policies are needed, but success requires a change from all of us.”

“The state’s per capita GDP has grown more than 41% while per capita greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by just over 25% since 1990. But this year’s Index serves as a wake-up call—we’re going to need major policy breakthroughs and deep structural changes if we’re going to deliver the much steeper emissions reductions required in the years ahead.

“Over the last 17 years, the industrial, residential and transportation sectors have cut their emissions by less than 5%,” said Adam Fowler, director of research at Beacon Economics, independent research and consulting firm. “Moving forward, the state must hit reduction targets of 4.5% annually—the days of a 20-year runway to achieve this level of reduction in these sectors are past.”