California set a record for greenhouse gas reductions in 2020, but it means nothing if politicians go along with the new rules.
The goal: To end the state’s most aggressive emission reduction programs by 2020, to be replaced by policies that actually help the planet. California must lead the nation in adopting net-zero emission measures by the state’s final year in office.
But in order to do so, California must also transform the economic, social and legislative framework that has allowed the state to enact large-scale policies that undermine the planet’s health.
The centerpiece of the new rules — the cap-and-trade system — will put the state’s economy at risk and raise costs that businesses and consumers cannot afford.
“As we consider the details of the proposal, policymakers — including members of the state Legislature — should not continue to treat the current market-based approach as a panacea,” said Andrew McKeown, executive director of the Climate Institute, an environmental think tank in San Francisco. “The best economic policy for California is a green, low-carbon economy, with high-quality jobs and livable communities.”
But critics say the new rules will raise costs even more. For example, a carbon tax would amount to a tax on the largest energy producers and would disproportionately affect low-income communities.
“This is not good economics. It is not good politics,” said state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel Valley. “This is an experiment that is going to have huge economic costs.”
The most immediate impact of the new rules will be in the retail-sector. The new cap-and-trade system will apply to the emissions of small, large and large corporate businesses — not just large industrial and commercial businesses like Calpine, Sempra Energy, Con Edison and PG&E.
“It is going to create a domino effect on the economy,” McKeown said. “Everything will be hit with a disproportionate amount of the costs.”
The biggest domino falling is the energy sector,