Landmark CA Climate Bill Could Have Wide Effects on Cars, Energy

2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt | Chevrolet

California already leads the nation in efforts to limit air pollution and reduce carbon emissions.

The Golden State has promoted electric cars like no other, not to mention efforts to boost renewable energy and other technologies that cut emissions.

But a landmark climate bill recently passed by the California state legislature will require even greater work to meet emissions targets.

Senate Bill 32 (SB32) calls for California to reduce greenhouse-gas emission to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

That represents a major increase from California’s current climate-change targets, notes The Mercury News.

Los Angeles traffic

Los Angeles traffic | David McNew/Getty Images

SB 32 builds on AB 32, a climate bill signed into law by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

The earlier bill required California to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The state is reportedly on track to meet that goal, having already cut emissions 9.4 percent from the peak reached in 2004, according to The Mercury News.

Now officials must find ways to cut them another 40 percent in just 15 years.

Exhaust fumes

Exhaust fumes in Los Angeles | David McNew/Getty Images

In 2014, the most recent year with available data, California emitted roughly 441 million metric tons (486 million tons) of greenhouse gases, according to data from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

The current goal for 2020 is 431 million metric tons (475 million tons), but emissions would have to be reduced to 260 million metric tons (286 million tons) to meet the requirements of SB 32.

That will necessitate even more ambitious climate policies, analysts say.

California now requires the six high-volume carmakers to sell zero-emission vehicles, and that program will expand to cover more auto companies and start to escalate the required numbers in 2018.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV | Chevrolet

It has also mandated that utilities must produce 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

To meet the new mandate, California may have to take measures like pushing the renewable-energy requirement beyond 50 percent, significantly increase sales of electric vehicles, and bring electrification into other types of vehicles (such as delivery trucks), analysts say.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Massachusetts is moving toward stronger limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from electric generating plants.

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Barker’s administration announced its support for stricter limits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program to reduce power-plant emissions run by nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Massachusetts now supports doubling the rate at which emissions decrease as part of the RGGI, from 2.5 percent to 5.0 percent per year, between 2020 and 2030.

The announcement was made in the midst of a review of the RGGI by member states.

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