Strong economic growth, the unexpected closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant and limited hydropower generation caused by drought led to a 1.7 percent increase in total greenhouse emissions in California from 2011 to 2012, according to the most recent greenhouse gas inventory from the California Air Resources Board.
The nuclear power plant closure increased reliance on natural gas-generation sources of in-state electricity, according to CARB.
In 2012, the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions were 459 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the 2014 edition of the California greenhouse gas emission inventory. GHG emissions in California peaked in 2004 at 493 MMTCO2e. Emissions have been on the decline since then.
Transportation related GHG emissions have dropped 11 percent since 2006. Still, the transportation sector is the largest source of emissions in the 2012, accounting for about 37 percent of the total emissions, according to the CARB inventory.
Per capita emissions in California have fallen by 12 percent from 2000 to 2012, in spite of 11.4 percent population gain during the same period. Per capita emissions from in-state electricity generation have declined 22 percent from 2000 to 2012.
California ranks second in the US in total greenhouse emissions. However, from a per capita and per GDP standpoint, California has the 45th and 46th lowest emissions, respectively. Texas remain the largest GHG emitting state. Globally, California has the 20th largest greenhouse gas emissions and the 38th largest per capita emissions for 2010, the most recent year data is available.
The California greenhouse gas emission inventory is the foundation of the state’s emission reduction program. The inventory uses both nationwide and statewide data as well as facility-specific data to estimate emissions from each source.
California has proposed and launched a number of efforts to reduce transportation-related emissions. Earlier this month, California joined H2USA, a public-private partnership led by the US Department of Energy that aims to accelerate the commercialization of clean transportation solutions, primarily fuel cell electric vehicles and a fueling infrastructure that will make these vehicles more accessible and affordable.