California regulators took a major step forward in climate policy today by approving a plan to implement the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act. The plan commits the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 596 million metric tons (business-as-usual) to 427 million metric tons in 2020, or 30% from what would otherwise occur. This is a big deal!
California’s plan did not occur in the dark of night (like some environmental rulemakings we know). A two-year planning process included 250 public hearings and 42,000 written comments from stakeholders representing business, environmental groups, and community activists. The result is a 142-page document that lays out specific targets for cutting carbon in all major sectors of the California economy. Improvements in energy efficiency, fuel standards, and electricity from renewable sources will produce most of the emission reductions.
TerraPass testified several times this year about the benefits of allowing carbon offsets to be part of the plan. We spoke about the expanded use of clean technologies in reducing GHGs at landfills and dairies, and the related cost savings that could come from offsets. Though many details remain to be worked out, we are pleased that the Air Resources Board approved offset policies consistent with TerraPass’ approach to quality standards. Our projects already meet the key tests of generating emission reductions that are real, additional, permanent, and independently verified.
The packed hearing room today had an atmosphere of history in the making, as each state board member discussed the significance of the climate plan for current and future generations. They painted a world in which we would soon see cars with GHG labels, plug-in hybrids, and utilities paying customers to use less energy. Chairwoman Mary Nichols even quoted Nelson Mandela, who once said:
> A vision without action is just a dream; an action without vision just passes time; a vision with an action changes the world.
The clerk called the roll: eight votes for; none against. Chalk one up for the planet.