California’s energy and climate policy: A full plate, but perhaps not a model policy

By M. Wara, September 1, 2014

California is a leader among states in its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32), the state has set itself on a course to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. In addition to its cap-and-trade program, California aims to accomplish this objective via a large assortment of complementary and overlapping policies. To a significant degree, cap-and-trade is a market-based "dessert" that follows a multicourse menu of other regulatory initiatives aimed at cutting emissions. The reduced cost-effectiveness, political costs, and regulatory costs associated with this approach make it unlikely to form a suitable model for states in which political commitment to climate action is more limited or regulatory capacity is not as great as in California.

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