This morning, California Governor Jerry Brown announced Executive Order B-30-15, setting a target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The 2030 target acts as an interim goal on the way to achieving reductions of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, a goal set by former Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 with Executive Order S-3-05. In starting his fourth term in 2015, Governor Brown has not been shy in laying out ambitious carbon reduction goals. In his inaugural address, the Governor called for increasing the state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50%, reducing petroleum use in cars and trucks in California by 50%, and doubling building energy efficiency, all by 2030.

State legislators have also introduced bills this session to increase the RPS to 50% and amend AB 32 to reach 80% below 1990 GHG levels by 2050. AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, established the current statutory target of reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The fate of the legislative proposals will be decided later this year, but in the meantime, Governor Brown has directed state agencies to implement measures to achieve the 2030 and 2050 goals under existing statutory authority. The Executive Order also specifically directed the California Air Resources Board to update its Climate Change Scoping Plan to incorporate the 2030 target.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB), the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and the California Energy Commission (CEC) implement most existing AB 32 programs. The CEC has jurisdiction over energy efficiency programs, the PUC handles most aspects of the RPS, and ARB has implemented a web of GHG reduction programs, including the state low carbon fuel standard and cap and trade program. While the PUC has statutory authority to treat the existing 33%-by-2020 RPS mandate as a floor, rather than a ceiling. ARB does not have the same authority to adopt additional GHG reduction programs, though AB 32 directs the agency to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on how to continue reductions of GHGs beyond 2020. In fact, even with the clear mandate in AB 32 to reach 1990 GHG levels by 2020, CARB has faced multiple law suits challenging its Scoping Plan, Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and Cap and Trade Program. We are tracking the PUC’s current RPS rulemaking and will post any news on increases to the California RPS. We will also be on the lookout for any initiatives CARB rolls out in response to the Executive Order.