California : a climate change example


usa.jpgLast week, the French weekly Challenges translated a very interesting article from the magazine The Economist. It handled the climate change approach of the most populated US State with its nearly 36 million inhabitants.

The Golden State alone would be the eighth world economic power.

California is often mentioned as an example in the fight against global warming as it wants to decrease by 80 percent its greenhouse gases emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. It is interesting to know how it plans to do so.

First of all, California is quite a clean state as its electricity doesn’t rely as much on coal as others US states and it has less heavy industries.

Below is a graph with the greenhouse gases emissions by economic sector. Transportation is accounting for more than 40 percent of local emissions, then comes the industry and electricity generation, each accounting for more than 20 percent.

graph_california.jpgAmong the various measures taken to mitigate climate change in California, we can mention the fact that 2020, vehicle fuel must produce 10 percent less carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, Mr. Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, would like to increase the mileage of cars and trucks.

Cleaner energy will have to be produced and the State plans to have a million roofs equipped with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels by the next ten years. PV panels produce electricity ( learn out more about this technology on this page ). This sunny state will have to produce 20 percent of its electricity via renewables by 2010.

Energy efficiency and virtuous behaviours are also due to decrease greenhouse gases emissions. To do so, the Californian state a program called Flex your power in order to push people to cut their energy consumption and live in a ” greener ” way. (See below for more details)

California is becoming an example for others US States as well as developed countries. Indeed, as it is stated in the above mentioned article :

California has not just inspired other states; it has created a vanguard that ought to be able to prod the federal government into stronger national standards than it would otherwise consider. But California is finding it easier to export its policies than to put them into practice at home.

However, some believe that California’s objectives are too optimistic and they won’t be achieved.

The Economist hence finishes its article on an interesting note :

In one way, California’s self-confidence is fully justified. It has done more than any other state—let alone the federal government—to fix America’s attention on climate change. It has also made it seem as though the problem can be solved. Which is why failure would be such bad news. At the moment California is a beacon to other states. If it fails, it will become an excuse for inaction.

Personally, I think that California is leading the fight against climate change in the United States and this increases the mass awareness regarding this problem in this part of the world.

The Golden State has very ambitious objectives and I believe it is a good thing to increase the importance of PV panels in a country where 50 percent of the electricity is produced via coal-fired plants. Indeed, the United States of America are doing like China as they rely massively on the most polluting solution to produce a majority of its electricity.

Learn out more :

Flex your power is “California’s energy efficiency marketing and outreach campaign, (it) has been helping Californians save energy since 2001“.

They provide interesting advices to decrease energy consumption.

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