Clean Energy Is Cutting Carbon Pollution in California: Berkeley Awarded for Progress

Environment California Research & Policy Center

Berkeley – As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, California is proving that we can win the fight against global warming.

At the state level, clean energy policies, such as California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) are significantly cutting emissions of carbon pollution – the leading cause of global warming – according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center. The report, Moving America Forward, showed that California’s energy efficiency policies reduced carbon pollution by at least eight million metric tons in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from 1,700,000 cars.

“By using energy more efficiently, and by generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Mac Farrell, Global Warming Organizer with Environment California Research & Policy Center. “We’ve proven that we have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We will need firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Scientists say extreme weather like recent wildfires foreshadow what could be a new normal of weather extremes that could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to act on climate. Coal and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

Environment California Research & Policy Center pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution. Power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Renewable electricity standards have helped California develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as 443,750 cars produce in a year.
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 1,700,000 cars produce in a year.
  • National limits on carbon pollution from power plants would build on California’s success in using wind, solar, and energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution.

Farrell pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.

 This year, the City of Berkeley is being awarded a 2014 Solar Champion Award for its local solar policies, which make going solar easier for the citizens of Berkeley. Specifically, Berkeley has streamlined its permitting process for rooftop solar and businesses and homeowners can call the city for free advice about going solar, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit Community Energy Services Corporation. The Berkeley city government also helped convene the East Bay Green Corridor, a partnership between nine cities that has led to standardized solar permitting procedures throughout the East Bay. Mayor Bates was on hand to accept the award at Berkeley’s energy-efficient West Branch Library building.

“We are delighted to receive this recognition of Berkeley’s solar policies from Environment California,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. “Our expedited solar-permitting process, work on a regional solar permitting system for the East Bay Green Corridor and other solar initiatives constitute an integral part of our broader mission to contain climate change.”

 Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan also entails increasing numbers of energy-efficient buildings, charging stations for electric vehicles and other measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And just last Wednesday, April 23, Berkeley was approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to be one of the two primary hosts for the introduction of bike sharing in the East Bay, along with Oakland.

 “With enough willpower, California can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round,” Farrell concluded. “Our leaders can start by supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants nationally and push for interim climate goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act, so we say on track to ultimately hit California’s 2050 climate goals.”



Environment California Research & Policy Center is a statewide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization working to protect California’s air, water and open spaces.

 [MK1]Don’t forget to link to the report