Author: Deborah

California is taking a bold step to reduce carbon pollution

California is taking a bold step to reduce carbon pollution

Majority of voters favor gasoline-car phaseout. But all-electric goal faces tough opposition from oil companies.

This article is more than 4 years old

This article is more than 4 years old

It is now more than a year and a half since the state of California embarked on one of the most ambitious climate-change programmes of any US state. Nearly all cars on the road in the first year of the phaseout were either hybrid electric or all-electric.

It has turned out to be no more than a modest step, but the state has taken a bold step that has the potential — at least from a climate policy perspective — to dramatically reduce carbon pollution.

With a goal of a 95% reduction in carbon emissions from greenhouse gas emissions from human activity by 2050, California has become a global leader in tackling the problem of climate change.

But while California has moved in a positive direction, the rest of the country has largely stopped even trying to reduce its own carbon emissions.

The federal government has pledged to slash emissions in half by 2030, a target that is on track to be met next year. But that is a lofty target, given the complexity and cost of reducing emissions from fossil fuels.

The US currently emits about 15% more carbon dioxide per person than people in other industrialised nations such as Australia and England, according to the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental organisation.

In reality, the US emits less than 10% – about 5% less than Australia and 17% less than Germany.

The reason for the discrepancy has to do with the way emissions are measured. Whereas Australia and the UK count emissions from agriculture, transportation and buildings, the US measures emissions from all sources including energy use.

That means, in Australia and the UK, the total emissions of cars, trucks and other heavy vehicles amount to around 6%. But in the US, the total figure is 13%.

That is why most states and cities have been reluctant to legislate new limits on greenhouse gas emissions.


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