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Transportation Eyed for Further Declines in Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Greenhouse gas emissions continue to drop in California even as the state grows its economy and population. Further declines in greenhouse gas emissions are expected to come from the state’s transportation sector, according to the California Energy Commission.

Its latest tracking progress report on greenhouse gases the Energy Commission shows that the transportation sector directly accounts for 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The below graphic shows California’s 2016 greenhouse gas emissions by end use:


Once refineries are included then transportation accounts for 50 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The report suggests that transforming California’s transportation system away from gasoline to zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles will be fundamental to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensified recently with Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent signing of an executive order to boost the supply of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and charging and refueling stations in California. That executive order sets a new target of 5 million ZEVs in California by 2030.

The recently signed executive order will be crucial to California meeting its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, which stems from Senate Bill 32 in 2016. Although transportation accounts for the largest chunk of the state’s greenhouse emissions, data from the California Air Resources Board (ARB) shows emissions already dropping in that sector. The below graph identifies greenhouse gas emissions, per capita, by sector:


Since 2001, greenhouse gas emissions, per person, have dropped 19 percent in California, according to data from the ARB. In 2015, emissions from routine emitting activities statewide were 1.5 million metric tons of CO2.

California generates only about 1 percent of global emissions.

In addressing its greenhouse gas emissions, California is proving that curbing emissions can co-exist with a growing economy.

While the state’s carbon pollution per million dollars of California gross domestic product (GDP) has declined 33 percent since 2001, its GDP has grown 37 percent between 2001 and 2015.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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