EarlyBird News

← Go back

California and New England behind on 2050 emission reduction goals

October 14, 2019

Even though California and New England are two parts of the United States most committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they are behind on their 2050 goals, according to several recent reports. For example, California aims to reduce emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. A report from Next 10 released on October 8, 2019, however, stipulates that California could be more than 100 years late in meeting this goal if it continues to operate at its current pace of emission reductions. New England is also aiming to reduce its GHG emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, but a report from the Brattle Group released in September suggests the region’s efforts are insufficient for meeting those goals.

Moreover, corporations, despite making some progress in achieving their emission reduction goals, are also falling behind. A Ceres Climate 100+ Progress report from earlier this month says that large corporations need to do much more in combatting climate change. The three reports are concerned in particular about transportation emissions and the lack of a clean electric grid.

California’s primary concern is vehicle emissions. An increase in car sales led to an increase in vehicle emissions by 0.7% from 2016 to 2017. Transportation comprises 41% of the state’s GHG emissions. Emissions decreased by 1.15% from 2016 to 2017, but Next 10 reported that California will reach its 2030 goals by 2061 and its 2050 goals by 2157 at this pace.

Brattle showed that New England needs to add more renewable capacity than projected if it is to meet increasing electric demand. Brattle set out three scenarios—one in which the region is efficiency-focused, another in which it is electrification-focused, and a third in which it focuses on electrification and renewable fuels—to illustrate this need for more renewable additions. If New England is focused on efficiency, power consumption is still projected to increase 77% by 2050, which would require renewable additions to increase 3.2 GW to 6.4 GW per year. This is a lot more than the current projections (800 MW per year between 2020 and 2030). The other two scenarios have higher projected increases in power consumption: 103% for electrification-focused, and 136% for electrification and renewable fuels.

The private sector is also behind on reducing emissions. The Ceres Climate 100+ Progress report tracked the climate goals of more than 160 companies. 70% of the companies that were tracked have GHG reduction goals. But a majority of them are not in line with U.S. emission reduction goals under the Paris Climate agreement. Furthermore, only 9% of them are in line with the International Panel on Climate Change’s commitment to limiting global warming to below 2°C. Clearly, states and the private sector have plenty of work to do in combatting climate change.