Greenhouse gas emissions are down in California, only a few years after an economic downturn and a new era of regulation hit the Golden State.
California recently released results of the California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for 2012, which tracks carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons.
In a news release, the California Air Resources Board says the state’s gross domestic product grew by 5 percent between 2009 and 2012 while carbon intensity fell steadily. The state’s transportation sector remains the largest single source of greenhouse gases with 36 percent, and declined from 2011 numbers even as the economy grew.
Lower than expected transportation sector emissions were cited by CARB staff in April before the air quality agency approved additional time allowances for small trucking companies to meet CARB’s Truck and Bus Rule.
The heavy-duty truck sector hit a high-water mark of 41 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2007. Then the economic collapse combined with other factors to continue decreases until 2012’s low of 35.78 million tons.
Cars and other light vehicles made up about 69 percent of the transportation sector’s emissions
CARB says transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions are trending downward long-term – showing a 12 percent drop during the past seven years. CARB credited hybrid technology for some of the transportation sector’s emissions drop.
“The Toyota Prius – with a combined mpg of 50 – was the best-selling car in California in 2012,” the release said.
California is on track to meet its obligations under California Assembly Bill 32 – a 2006 law that requires the state to reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Primary regulations adopted to meet AB32 include the state’s cap-and-trade rule, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Advanced Clean Cars program.
“The latest inventory clearly demonstrates that under AB 32, California is getting more economic development every year for each ton of greenhouse gas emitted overall,” CARB Chairman Mary Nichols said, according to the release. “That’s good news for California, and the message is clear: We need to stay the course we’re on to continue to grow California’s lower carbon economy.”
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