Cap and trade: Emissions reductions at low cost

A key tool for meeting California's AB 32 emissions goals

California’s climate legislation, referred to in shorthand as AB 32, requires the Golden State to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The level of GHG reduction this entails is the equivalent of taking approximately 15 million cars off the nation’s roads.

While other states and regions have also adopted carbon pricing as a way to reduce emissions, AB 32’s broad scope, together with a suite of complementary policies and regulations enacted to support its overall goal, make it extraordinary.

AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan

To meet reduction targets, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the lead state agency responsible for implementing AB 32, 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.
  • Expanding and strengthening energy efficiency programs and building and appliance standards.
  • 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
  • Adopting and implementing direct measures to reduce emissions and protect public health, like the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

CARB began enforcing the AB 32 cap-and-trade program in January of 2013.

In close collaboration with CARB and stakeholders, EDF is monitoring the program’s progress and working to ensure that implementation continues to go smoothly.