California is leading the climate change fight

Next step: Strong, successful implementation of AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act

Getting the policies of this landmark law right will ensure the greatest environmental and economic benefits.

Environmental Defense Fund co-sponsoredCalifornia's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), landmark legislation that set an absolute statewide limit on greenhouse gas emissions, and confirmed California's commitment to transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy.

What must be done and how

AB 32 requires California to lower greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, the equivalent of taking approximately 15 million cars off the nation's roads. To meet reduction targets, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the lead agency responsible for implementing the act, is following a blueprint known as the AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan. The plan lays out the strategy and a comprehensive set of actions including:

    • Developing a state-wide cap-and-trade program.


    • Achieving a statewide renewable energy mix of 33% by 2020.

    • Establishing targets for transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions for regions throughout California, and pursuing policies and incentives to achieve those targets.

Guaranteeing sound policy decisions

After a comprehensive rule-making process, CARB began enforcing the AB 32 cap-and-trade program in January of 2013. In close collaboration with CARB and stakeholders, EDF is working to ensure that cap-and-trade implementation continues to go smoothly.

As of January 2013, over 300 major polluters in California face emissions reductions obligations under the “cap,” and in 2015, the program's size will double to include transportation fuels and natural gas. EDF continues to play a focal role in building and sustaining overall public and political support and momentum for the law. We are providing CARB with expertise so that policies maximize environmental and economic benefits, create long-term investments in California communities, and protect communities from disproportionate environmental or economic impacts.

The California climate success story is underway: the state has experienced record clean tech venture capital investment and green jobs are growing at ten times the rate of jobs in other sectors of the economy since AB 32 passed. Through sound policy decisions and smart market-based solutions, California continues to be the most meaningful stage for climate action in the world. AB 32 policies build on lessons learned from other environmental pioneers, and are designed to harmonize with and complement national and international climate change policies as they emerge.

Showcasing the clean energy economy

We know reducing emissions creates jobs and grows the economy. Here's how we're making the case for green jobs in California. We have:

    • Plotted the state's growing clean transportation sector through an interactive map of the over 300 California companies in this industry.

    • Profiled businesses and organizations leading the low-carbon sector and taking advantages of the economic opportunities of AB 32

    • Mapped out Los Angeles and opportunities for solar development and job creation in disadvantaged communities

    • Published a case study of six biodiesel companies and explored how this industry is fueling positive change in California with the help of smart policies.

    • Tracked historic growth in the seven main clean economy employment sectors in coordination with Collaborative Economics.

  • Authored a report on how investments of AB 32 auction revenue can help support California's green economy.

Innovative climate and energy solutions

The success of AB 32 depends on finding and adopting innovative solutions with a range of partners.

On the international front, we helped California coordinate with the Brazilian state of Acre and the Mexican state of Chiapas to put them on track to generate credits to be considered for use in California's cap-and-trade program. The partnership will help Brazil and Mexico preserve their rainforests and California reach its emission reduction targets. We have facilitated partnerships with other countries like China that are interested in developing policies similar to those of California.

Locally, we launched the Climate for Community pilot project with SF Power to show how residents and small businesses can save on utility bills and make money in the state's carbon market. The project brings needed funds into under-invested communities and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our track record in California

EDF has helped win approval and continues to defend these breakthrough policies to combat climate change:

    • Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: we helped pass this bold law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and defended it from polluters in 2010.

    • Cap and Trade: the world's first economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade regulation.

    • Auction Revenue Investment: a comprehensive set of legislative bills directing the use of proceeds from the cap and trade auction. California is on track to invest billions of dollars for climate pollution reduction during the program's three compliance phases, focusing on investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, green job creation, and disadvantaged communities across the state.

    • Greenhouse gas credits from unregulated sectors: allowing credits to be generated from innovative projects for climate pollution reduction occurring within a range of high quality project types, including rural and urban forests, ozone depleting substances, livestock manure, and rice cultivation.

    • Low Carbon Fuel Standard: the world's first standard for dramatically reducing the environmental impact of transportation fuels.

    • California's Clean Cars Program: adopted by 15 other states, permission to enforce standards was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2009. California has also collaborated with the U.S. EPA and car companies to ensure the GHG emission from cars will decrease significantly by 2025.

  • Climate Action Reserve's Forest Project Protocol: allows forest projects to earn carbon credits and play a greater role in mitigating climate change.