On Monday, California's newly elected Legislature started a two-year session, during which one of its chief policy challenges will be to update the state's targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Under AB32, the state is committed to reducing statewide emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and its current mix of emissions-cutting policies sets targets for 2020. After 2020, however, there are no targets, and the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown will need to put on their green eyeshades, get a big jug of strong coffee and disappear into a smoke-filled back room to come up with a new set of emissions-cutting mandates for the next period, probably to 2030.
Nearly all the easy pickings have been picked, however. Emissions reductions in the post-2020 period will be more difficult, both policy-wise and politically. They will start to cut to the bone and will inflict real pain -- and opposition.
But there's one measure that, curiously enough, hasn't been considered yet. As I have written here before, one of California's great ironies is that state rules prevent large companies from buying as much renewable power as they want. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Kaiser Permanente and others have admirable policies for environmental sustainability but are prevented from walking their talk. Instead of going green, they must put up with the same, mostly-brown mix of power that is available from their local utility.
The Sacramento Bee has published an op-ed article that I co-wrote with my colleague Greg Staple explaining how California can fix this dilemma. The article is behind a subscription paywall, so if you aren't a subscriber, a PDF version is viewable here. I will be writing more about this subject in the coming days.