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New Strategies Needed for California to Reach 2050 Greenhouse Gas Targets

Nov 05, 2013 04:18 PM EST

Though on track to meet its state-mandated targets for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, major changes are needed if the Golden State hopes to meet its 2050 goals, a new study warns.

In 2005, an executive order charged California with reducing its emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide to 80 percent below 1990 levels by the middle of the century.

"This is quite a stringent requirement, and even if we aggressively expand our policies and implement fledgling technologies that are not even on the marketplace now, our analysis shows that California will still not be able to get emissions to 85 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent per year by 2050," Jeff Greenblatt, the researcher behind the California Greenhouse Gas Inventory Spreadsheet (GHGIS), said in a statement.

Developed by the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, also known as Berkeley Lab, the GHGIS looks at to what extent current policies and technologies are able to reduce emissions.

The model contains three possible scenarios for the future of the state: a continuation of all committed policies, the addition of uncommitted policies such as waste diversion and biofuel, and the extension of policies in order to implement emerging technologies, including higher vehicle fuel efficiencies.

By taking projections of growth in the state's main drivers for increased emissions -- population and gross state product, Greenblatt was able to make projections into the future. In doing so, he determined that emissions in all three cases would still fall well above the target of 85 million metric tons of CO3 equivalent (MtCO2) annually, though still with a significant range from 444 MtCO2 to 188 MtCO2 between the first and third scenarios respectively.

The study comes at the same time the United Nations Environment Program released a report warning that if the world is to reach greenhouse gas emission goals for 2020, dramatic changes are needed.

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