Energy Commission Reports Show Long-Term Climate Goals Have Opportunities for Economic and Health Benefits Across California

California has taken a strong leadership role on climate change by setting aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050 and advancing efforts to prepare for climate change.

There are challenges to meeting those goals including finding ways to implement them while keeping energy bills affordable and ensuring vulnerable communities aren’t left behind. Several California Energy Commission studies were undertaken in recent years to examine the long-term economic, social, and health benefits of reducing carbon emissions in the energy sector.

One study conducted by Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), a San Francisco-based energy consulting firm, found that meeting the state’s goals would require high levels of energy efficiency and conservation, more low carbon electricity generation, greater numbers of electric vehicles, and the increased electricity use for space and water heating in commercial and residential buildings. The 2015 study concluded that the net cost of moving to a low-carbon energy system would be relatively small for the majority of the state’s population.

Despite the overall positive news, in 2015, the Energy Commission initiated a study examining barriers such as cost and availability of services that have traditionally prevented residents and businesses in low-income or disadvantaged communities from benefiting from renewable and energy efficiency technologies.

Work is underway to implement recommendations from the study, such as continuing to fund demonstration projects that are located in or that provide benefits to those communities. In addition, the Energy Commission launched a set of energy equity indicators to track the progress of clean energy access, investments, and grid resiliency to emergencies in those communities.

Other benefits of California’s long-term climate policies that would extend to low-income and disadvantaged communities were highlighted in a study released this year by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research.

The study found that a low-carbon future would create almost one million new jobs in the state by 2050 and that many of them, including those in the construction, transportation, and service-related industries, would be generated in disadvantaged communities.

The study also found that the state’s climate policies would significantly reduce pollution-related health issues particularly for residents of disadvantaged communities who are often exposed to more pollutants than other populations and often have higher rates of pollution-associated diseases like asthma.

The Energy Commission reports are another strong indication that the state’s climate policies are helping to ensure all Californians benefit from the 21st century grid.

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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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