California sets key climate targets
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California on Thursday set key emissions targets and became the first state to require heavy industries to report their greenhouse gases, major steps in its landmark law to reduce global warming.
Starting in 2008, owners of power plants, oil refineries, cement plants and other big polluters will tell the state how much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases they spew. By 2010, those reports will be independently verified.
Also on Thursday, the California Air Resources Board set a specific emissions target for the state to meet by 2020 .
The CARB's actions were required by 2006 legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling for a rollback of emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of nearly 30 percent from the estimated level if no actions were taken to curb emissions.
"The new regulations are the foundation for what will probably be the most comprehensive greenhouse gas guidelines in the world," said Karen Douglas, director of the California Climate Initiative.
Much of the work of CARB staff was to account for 1990 emissions so the 2020 goal could be certain.
"The mandatory reporting requirements are a crucial part of the state's efforts to reach that goal," said CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols. "We are now giving businesses and industry the clear guidance they need to calculate and report their greenhouse gas emissions for their largest facilities."
Devra Wang, director of NRDC's California Energy program said: "This sends a clear signal to entrepreneurs, innovators and venture capitalists investing in cleaner energy solutions, that California is serious about reducing pollution and leading the clean tech industry."
The rules require plants that emit more than 25,000 tons of CO2 per year to report their emissions each year.
The CARB found that in 1990, the state's emissions were equal to 427 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Today, they stand at approximately 500 million metric tons and would rise to 600 million metric tons by 2020 under a no-action, "business as usual" scenario.
This means California must prevent 173 million metric tons from being emitted by 2020 to comply with the law, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, said CARB.
CARB developed an inventory of six greenhouse gases, led by CO2 which accounts for about 89 percent of the total. The others are methane, nitrous oxide, and three gases used mainly in industrial applications.
Carbon emissions by cars and trucks account for about 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California and will not be affected by Thursday's CARB rulings but are already tracked through existing programs, CARB said.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, Editing by Mary Milliken and Carol Bishopric)