Environment and Natural Resources

Climate Change and Energy

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Chapter 488 [AB 32, Núñez/Pavley]), commonly referred to as AB 32, established the goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020. Subsequently, SB 32 (Chapter 249, Statutes of 2016 [Pavley]) reduced the GHG emission target by an additional 40 percent by 2030. The state has developed a wide variety of regulations and programs intended to reduce GHG emissions, including a cap-and-trade program.

The cap-and-trade program places a “cap” on aggregate GHG emissions from large GHG emitters. The cap declines over time, ultimately arriving at the target emission level in 2030. To implement the cap-and-trade program, ARB allocates a number of carbon allowances equal to the cap, and each allowance is essentially a permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide (or the equivalent amount for other GHGs). The ARB provides some allowances for free, making others available for purchase at quarterly auctions. Entities can also “trade” (buy and sell on the open market) the allowances in order to obtain enough to cover their total emissions for a given period of time.

On this page:


Greenhouse Gas Emissions Come From a Wide Variety of Sources

(Click on the image to enlarge) Greenhouse Gas Emissions Come From a Wide Variety of Sources

For more information, please see Air Resources Board Emissions Inventory


State Met 2020 GHG Goal Early, but 2030 Goal More Ambitious

State Met 2020 GHG Goal Early, but 2030 Goal More Ambitious


Electricity Is Biggest Driver of Emission Reductions So Far

Electricity Is Biggest Driver of Emission Reductions So Far

For more information, please see Assessing California’s Climate Policies—Electricity Generation


Major Policies to Meet Statewide Greenhouse Gas Limits

Cap‑and‑Trade. Regulation that establishes a “cap” on overall emissions from large emitters by issuing a limited number of permits (also known as allowances). Allowances can be bought and sold (traded), which creates a market price for allowances and an incentive for lowest cost reductions.

Short‑Lived Climate Pollutants. Regulations and incentives intended to reduce certain types of emissions from dairies, landfills, and refrigeration equipment.

Renewable Portfolio Standard. Regulations that require utilities to provide a certain percentage of electricity from qualifying renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Energy Efficiency. Regulations and financial incentives to encourage more efficient energy use in commercial buildings, homes, and manufacturing facilities.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Regulation that requires transportation fuel suppliers to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases per unit of fuel used in California—also known as carbon intensity of fuels.

Vehicle‑Related Programs. Regulations and incentives to encourage more efficient light‑ and heavy‑duty vehicles, as well as promote certain types of technologies such as electric vehicles.

Vehicle Miles Traveled. Planning strategies and financial incentives intended to reduce the amount of light‑duty vehicle use through such things as increased transit and changes to land use.



Cap-and-Trade Regulation Ensures Emissions Do Not Exceed Limit

Cap-and-Trade Regulation Ensures Emissions Do Not Exceed Limit

For more information, please see The 2017-18 Budget: Cap-and-Trade


State Revenue From Cap-and-Trade Auctions

State Revenue From Cap-and-Trade Auctions

For more information, please see California Air Resources Board Public Auction Proceeds Report.


2019‑20 Cap‑and‑Trade Expenditure Plan

(In Millions)




Continuous Appropriations


High‑speed rail

High‑Speed Rail Authority


Affordable housing and sustainable communities

Strategic Growth Council


Transit and intercity rail capital

Transportation Agency


Transit operations

Department of Transportation


Other Spending Commitments


State Responsibility Area fee backfill

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection/Conservation Corps


State administrative costs



Manufacturing sales tax exemption backfill

Not applicable


Discretionary Spending


Low Carbon Transportation


Clean Vehicle Rebate Project

Air Resources Board


Heavy duty vehicle and off‑road equipment programs

Air Resources Board


Low‑income light duty vehicles and school buses

Air Resources Board


Air Toxic and Criteria Pollutants (AB 617)


Local air district programs to reduce air pollution

Air Resources Board


Local air district administrative costs

Air Resources Board


Technical assistance to community groups

Air Resources Board




Healthy and resilient forests (SB 901)

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


Prescribed fire and fuel reduction (SB 901)

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


Urban forestry

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


Wildland‑urban interface and local fire prevention

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection




Agricultural diesel engine replacement and upgrades

Air Resources Board


Dairy methane reductions

Food and Agriculture


Healthy Soils

Food and Agriculture


Integrated Climate Action and Resilience


Transformative Climate Communities

Strategic Growth Council


Urban greening

Natural Resources Agency


Low‑income weatherization

Community Services and Development


Energy Corps

Conservation Corps


Coastal adaptation



Safe Drinking Water


Safe drinking water program

State Water Board


Workforce Training


Workforce training for a carbon‑neutral economy

Workforce Development Board


Short‑lived Climate Pollutants


Waste diversion and recycling

Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery


High‑global warming potential refrigerants (SB 1013)

Air Resources Board


Climate Change Research and Technical Assistance


Climate change research

Strategic Growth Council


Study transition to a carbon‑neutral economy

Environmental Protection Agency


Technical assistance for disadvantaged communities

Strategic Growth Council




For more information, please see The 2019-20 Budget: California Spending Plan for Resources and Environmental Protection.



Transportation Emissions Had Declined, But Increased in Recent Years

Transportation Emissions Had Declined, But Increased in Recent Years

For more information, please see Assessing California's Climate Policies—Transportation

State Oversees Various Programs Designed to Reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions in Transportation Sector

Light‑Duty Vehicle Programs

  • Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Rebate for purchase or lease of a new zero‑emission vehicle (ZEV).
  • Clean Cars 4 All. Rebate to retire an older, high emission vehicle and replace it with a newer zero or lower‑emission vehicle.
  • Single‑Occupant Vehicle Decals. Program that allows ZEV drivers to use the high‑occupancy lane even when containing only a single individual.
  • Clean Car Standards. Joint state and federal regulation requiring auto manufacturers to incrementally improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHG emissions from their vehicle fleets over time.
  • ZEV Mandate. State regulation requiring auto manufacturers to increase the number of ZEVs sold in the state.
  • Public ZEV Infrastructure Funding. Funding to support the installation of public electric vehicle recharging and hydrogen refueling stations.

Heavy‑Duty Vehicle Incentives

  • Demonstrations and Pilots. Grants for technologies and equipment that are not yet commercially available.
  • Programs for Early Commercial Deployment. Incentives for technologies that have passed the pilot stage and commercial models are starting to become available.
  • Programs Focused on Local Pollution Reductions. Programs primarily focused on reducing near‑term reductions in local emissions, such as incentives for vehicle replacements.
  • ZEV Fueling Infrastructure. Programs that fund infrastructure for heavy‑duty vehicle charging and refueling stations.

Low Carbon Fuels

  • Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Regulation requiring reductions in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.

Vehicle Miles Traveled

  • SB 375. 2008 legislation requiring regional transportation planning agencies to create plans to reducing light‑duty vehicle miles traveled.


Major State Zero‑Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Infrastructure Programs







Volkswagen (VW) settlement

California Air Resources Board

$800 million over ten years


A 2016 settlement requires VW to invest $800 million in ZEV projects—mostly for ZEV fueling infrastructure—in California over ten years. The first two rounds of spending will invest about $270 million to construct over 3,000 charging stations.

Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program

California Energy Commission

$275 million through 2018‑19

Vehicle fees

Spent about $40 million annually for public ZEV infrastructure in past years. Recent budget actions increased that amount to $114 million in 2018‑19. Has funded about 7,000 electric charging and hydrogen refueling stations funded to date, and increased spending could result in more than an additional 10,000.

Investor‑owned utilities plans

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

$230 million since 2016


Since 2016, CPUC has approved about $230 million for ZEV infrastructure pilot projects, primarily at multifamily residential, workplace, and other public locations. Estimated to result in over 12,000 charging stations.

NRG settlement


$100 million (one time)

NRG Energy

A 2012 settlement requires the energy company NRG to install at least 200 public fast‑charging stations and infrastructure for up to 10,000 privately owned charging stations at residences and workplaces.

Vehicle charging at state buildings

Department of General Services

$90 million over four years

State General Fund and special funds

The department has a plan to install 6,200 charging stations at state buildings for employees and the state fleet.

Vehicle charging on state highways

Department of Transportation

$20 million (one time)

Fuel taxes

The 2017‑18 budget included $20 million to install over 30 electric vehicle fast chargers along highway corridors.


Range of Sea-Level Rise Projections for the California Coast

Range of Sea-Level Rise Projections for the California Coast

For more information, please see Preparing for Rising Seas: How the State Can Help Support Local Coastal Adaptation Efforts


Three Key Strategies for Adapting to Sea-Level Rise

Three Key Strategies for Adapting to Sea-Level Rise

Benefits of Taking Action Early to Prepare for Sea-Level Rise (SLR)

  • Planning Ahead Means Adaptation Actions Can Be Strategic and Phased. Early planning can allow coastal communities to adopt a phased approach that undertakes escalating actions when certain predetermined conditions or “triggers” are reached.
  • Undertaking Near-Term Actions Can “Buy Time” Before More Intensive Responses are Needed. Putting certain adaptation projects and strategies in place now can help postpone and extend the period before which subsequent, more difficult-to-implement actions are needed.
  • Early Implementation Provides the Opportunity to Test Approaches and Learn What Works Best. Acting to implement adaptation strategies in the near term will provide the opportunity to monitor, evaluate, and revise them in the coming years before SLR threats become more pressing.
  • Taking Action Earlier May Make Overall Adaptation Efforts More Affordable. Undertaking a multiyear, multistep strategic plan for coastal adaptation can allow local governments to spread costs over a longer period of time.
  • Coming Decade Is Key Window for SLR Preparation. Some adaptation strategies—such as fortifying certain tidal marshes—may not be effective against SLR unless they are implemented before sea levels rise to higher levels.


Electricity Generated From a Wide Variety of Sources

Electricity Generated From a Wide Variety of Sources


Summary of Major Policies to Reduce Emissions From Electricity Generation


Year Implemented


Renewable Portfolio Standard


Requires LSEs to generate a minimum percent of retail electricity from qualifying renewable sources. Percentages increase over time from 20 percent in 2010 to 60 percent in 2030.

California Solar Initiative


Provided $2.7 billion over a ten‑year period for financial incentives to reduce the cost of installing distributed solar, such as rooftop solar PV.

Net Energy Metering


Encourages customers to install distributed solar generation by paying them a retail electricity rate for the electricity they generate.

Emissions Performance Standard (SB 1368)a


Effectively prohibits LSEs from signing or extending long‑term contracts with coal power plants.



Required electricity generators and importers to obtain an allowance or offset to cover each ton of GHG emitted. Program includes other emitters outside of the electricity sector, and entities can buy and sell allowances.

aChapter 598 of 2006 (SB 1368, Perata).

LSE = Load serving entity; PV = photovoltaic; and GHG = greenhouse gas.

Electricity Generation Has Been Relatively Steady, but Emissions Intensity Has Declined Substantially

Electricity Generation Has Been Relatively Steady, but Emissions Intensity Has Declined Substantially

Renewable Generation Increased While Coal and Nuclear Decreased

Renewable Generation Increased While Coal and Nuclear Decreased


Major State Spending on Energy Efficiency, Alternative Energy, and Mobile Source Emissions Reductionsa

(In Millions)




Estimated 2017-18 Spending

Energy Efficiency

IOU Energy Efficiency Programs

Programs to increase energy efficiency and transform technology markets within California using ratepayer funds.



Clean Energy Jobs Act—Proposition 39

Grants for schools and community colleges for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.



Energy Savings Assistance Program

Energy efficiency program for low-income IOU customers, including weatherization, minor home repairs, and energy education.



Alternative Energy

IOU Self Generation Incentive Program

Rebates for qualifying distributed energy systems installed on the customers’ side of the utility meter, including fuel cells and energy storage systems.



Electric Program Investment Chargeb

Funding for applied research and development, technology demonstration and deployment, and market facilitation for clean energy technologies.



Dairy Digester Research and Development

Grants to implement dairy digesters that reduce methane emissions from dairy manure in California.



New Solar Homes Partnership

Incentives for installation of eligible solar energy systems on new residential construction.



Incentives for food processors

Incentives for emission reductions from food processing facilities.



Public Interest Natural Gas Research, Development and Demonstration Program

Research, development and demonstration program to advance science or technology for clean energy innovations related to natural gas use.



Mobile Source Emission Reductions

Heavy Duty Vehicles and Off-Road Equipment

Programs that promote low-emission heavy-duty vehicles and equipment, including freight demonstration projects, vouchers for trucks and buses, and truck and bus pilots.



Carl Moyer Program and other local air district programs

Grants administered by local air districts for cleaner-than-required engines, equipment, and other sources of air pollution.



Light-duty vehicles

Includes rebates for zero-emission vehicles, additional incentives for certain low- and moderate-income households purchasing cleaner vehicles, and other programs to reduce transportation emissions in disadvantaged communities.



Agricultural equipment

Incentives to promote low-emission agricultural equipment



Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program

Incentives to develop and deploy alternative vehicle technologies and renewable fuels.



IOU electric vehicle infrastructure pilots

Pilot programs to support electric vehicle charging in various locations, such as apartment buildings and workplaces.



aDoes not include most Volkswagen settlement funding or public transit-related programs.

bDoes not include funds allocated to utilities.

IOU = Investor-Owned Utility; CPUC = California Public Utilities Commission; CDE = California Department of Education; CCC = California Community Colleges; CEC = California Energy Commission; CDFA = California Department of Food and Agriculture ; and ARB = Air Resources Board.

Last Updated: January 2020