Last week, California's air quality board unanimously approved the nation's most sweeping plan to slow climate change by cutting emissions. The state already has a mandate to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (about 15 percent in the next 12 years), but this new plan includes 31 rules that will effect everything from utilities to kitchen appliances.
A large range of industries will soon have emissions targets, local governments will be required to curb urban sprawl and a cap-and-trade program will be implemented that covers 85 percent of emission sources in the state. Vehicles, consumer appliances and new and existing buildings will be held to higher efficiency standards. Utilities will need to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.
After 18 months of public hearings and 43,000 comments, here are the highlights of the plan from the state with the world's eighth-largest economy:
- Put 85 percent of greenhouse gas-emitting industries into a cap-and-trade program.
- Require utilities to produce 33 percent of their energy from renewable sources.
- Increase efficiency standards for new and existing buildings.
- Discourage urban sprawl by building housing near transit hubs.
- Lower methane levels in landfills and encourage high levels of recycling and zero trash in landfills.
Supporters of the plan hope this will be a model for President-elect Obama to consider when drafting a national emissions-cutting plan.