California’s emissions can be terminated with no cost to consumers

Plans to reduce California's emissions of greenhouse gases to 2000 levels by 2010 were given a huge boost this week after the Centre for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) found they could be achieved with no net cost to consumers.

Speaking at a press briefing, Ned Hulme, President of CCAP, said that Governor Schwarzenegger’s goal was definitely achievable.

“As the fifth largest economy and 13th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, California’s progress in emission reduction will have significant implications internationally and place the State at the forefront of efforts to battle global warming,” he said.

The study examined a full range of methods currently under consideration by the State to reduce emissions. CCAP’s analysis calculated the cost to implement reduction measures in the agricultural/forestry, cement and transportation sectors, and reviewed work done for the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program for methane and high global warming potential gases such as PFCs, HFCs, and SF6.

“We compared the energy cost savings projected to be achieved by two of the key greenhouse gas reducing programs underway in California – the GHG standards for car emissions and the new energy efficiency standards – to the costs of the measures we have analysed. In addition to likely meeting the Governor’s 2010 target at no net cost, we conclude that the 2020 target can likely be met with consumers enjoying savings in gasoline costs and energy bills in 2020. This is great news for California and the global climate,” Hulme added.

Additional cost-effective reduction measures are expected to be available in the oil refining and power sectors, which produced more than 25% of California’s GHG emissions in 2002. This would allow the target to be exceeded by 2010.

On an average basis the reductions identified by CCAP are expected to cost US$5.25 per ton in 2010 and US$5.77 per ton in 2020. In 2010, after subtracting the cost of these measures from the cost savings expected from the vehicle GHG standards and energy efficiency programs, the net cost is expected to be zero.

A sample of measures analysed for various sectors included:

  • Transport: switching freight to rail to reduce the reliance on large high-emitting diesel trucks, and designing land use to promote infill and transit-oriented development;

  • Agriculture/Forestry: Use of no-till farming techniques that eliminate the need to plough before planting, greatly increasing the retention of soil carbon;

  • Landfill: capturing methane now escaping from landfills into the atmosphere and burning it for electricity production;

  • Dairy/Manure management: capturing methane as above from manure lagoons for electricity production.

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