Leading in a better way on climate change

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 1, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This week the AB 32 Implementation Group (AB 32IG), chaired by CMTA, told the Air Resources Board that California should take a new approach to climate policies for the decades after 2020. The comments on the AB 32 Scoping Plan Update (SPU) are available here.

By 2020 California will have reached the AB 32 goal of statewide greenhouse gas emissions no more than the 1990 level. In our view, AB 32 requires California to maintain that level beyond 2020, but does not give authority for further emission reductions – Legislative action is needed to set more stringent targets. A handful of bills are moving through the process to require agencies to conduct studies and/or make recommendations about post-2020 strategies.

California has been proudly leading the nation with aggressive climate policies to be the model for other states and countries. Everyone agrees that we won’t mitigate climate change impacts without robust participation by the rest of the world. However, since 2006 when AB 32 passed there has not been the widespread adoption of similar policies, or a national consensus on climate goals that was hoped for in 2006. As a result, California has been leading with not enough followers. This threatens California jobs and its economy while not improving the climate.

AB 32 IG suggests that a robust economic analysis about the costs and benefits of existing and proposed policies be conducted before any further targets are set. A more stringent target should also recognize the efficiencies already accomplished in California over the last decades compared to other jurisdictions. Finally, any future goals should be flexible and responsive to actions taken by other jurisdictions. California can both protect the economy and achieve more global emission reductions if we commit to take strong action only when others also step up. Inspiring more followers in this manner is a better way to lead on climate change.

Our SPU comments echo many of the key points raised by Dr Robert Stavins of Harvard University, a renowned economist involved in international efforts to address climate change. His report “Beyond AB 32: Post-2020 Climate Policy for California” is available here.

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