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California is a climate leader. But here’s why it needs to move even faster

By Sammy Roth | February 18, 2020

California is aiming to slash planet-warming emissions faster than ever over the next decade — and critics say state officials aren’t acting with nearly enough urgency.

The Golden State reached its 2020 climate change goal four years early, bringing economy-wide emissions back down to 1990 levels without most Californians noticing that anything was different. But the state’s next target, a 40% reduction in climate pollution by 2030, will be a much bigger lift.

A recent report from the research firm Energy Innovation found that the state must cut emissions nearly twice as quickly over the coming decade as it did during the last one, and that current policies won’t get the job done. The think tank Next 10 reached a similar conclusion, finding that the state is on track to meet its 2030 target three decades late.

Despite those findings, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering a proposal to cut power-sector emissions by just 25% during the 2020s, a slower pace than during the previous decade. Commission staff also studied a plan that would aim to cut climate pollution in half, before recommending the less aggressive target.

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