California Tackles Climate Change

January 01, 2008
Climate Solutions Special Issue
A version of this article appears in the Climate Solutions Special Issue issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Climate change is the most important environmental and economic concern of this century. Period. And reducing greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide (CO2), is the only way to slow this change. It is the only way to minimize the projected environmental impact of climate change—an impact that threatens the robust economy of California and the quality of California’s environment.

While one state alone cannot stabilize the world’s climate, California has a reputation as a proving ground for new technology and for new ideas that other states can adopt. California lived up to this reputation with AB 32, the landmark law that Governor Schwarzenegger signed in 2006, which compels the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 29% by 2020. The law set the bar for energy and air quality programs; it put reducing CO2 squarely front and center of government and business agendas. Many businesses and individuals are eager to help California achieve its goals, but they need a clear course of action. The recently released 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report tells businesses, consumers, and decision makers how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the state to reach its goals.

One in eight Americans—more than 37 million —live in our Golden State, and more than 44 million people are expected to live here by 2020. Most of this growth will occur in the hotter interior areas of the state, increasing the demand for air conditioning. California has led the nation in effective action to reduce emissions and improve air quality and has held the line on per capita consumption of electricity for decades. But with a growing population and a growing economy, California must work harder and more creatively to ensure that energy supplies keep pace with demand while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.

Since 2003, California’s energy policy has relied on a defined loading order to meet its growing energy needs: first, with energy efficiency and demand response, which together form the keystone of California’s energy strategy; second, with renewable energy and distributed generation; and third, with infrastructure improvement coupled with clean fossil-fueled sources. This strategy has helped to reduce CO2 emissions and to diversify our sources of energy, but the intensity of existing programs, standards, and regulations must be stepped up to achieve the aggressive goals set forth in AB 32. If history is any predictor of a state’s ability to make a difference on the world stage, California can and will drive global progress.

Claudia Chandler is an assistant executive director at the California Energy Commission.

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To download a copy of the 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report, go to

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