California achieved its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets for 2020 four years ahead of schedule, state officials said, pointing to 2016 emissions data issued this month.
The California GHG Emission Inventory said 2016 emissions fell for the fourth year in a row to 429 million metric tons (mmt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), beating a 2020 target of 431 mmt CO2e, which was the statewide GHG level in 1990.
The falling emissions have coincided with rising economic growth, with the state's gross domestic product (GDP) up 3% in 2016 while carbon intensity in the economy dropped 5%. Between 2013 through 2016, the state added more than 1.3 million jobs, an 8% increase, outpacing the national 6% gain over the same period.
The annually reported covered emissions have dropped each year that the state's cap-and-trade program has been in place, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB). There is also facility-specific data from the state's Mandatory GHG Reporting Program (MRR). The GHG inventory includes the cap-trade emissions and the remaining 20% of emissions in the state.
CARB noted that the largest reductions came from the electric generation sector, "led by growth in wind and solar generation," including growth in rooftop and large-scale solar generation. In 2016, the state also experienced abundant rain and snow, boosting hydroelectric power.
CARB noted that the industrial sector showed a slight decrease in GHG emissions in the past two years (2015-16) for which there are complete data, and the transportation sector remains the largest source of GHG emissions, increasing by 2% in 2016.
The latest MRR report indicated that emissions in and outside of cap-and-trade decreased in 2016.
“Achieving the greenhouse gas targets four years early is a testament to the commitment of Californians," said California Energy Commission Chairman Robert Weisenmiller. “Not only have we demonstrated that reducing GHG emissions is feasible, we have shown the world it can be done while growing the economy.”