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View Diary: Doing the Math: California Poised to Delay Climate Action for 80 Years. (46 comments)

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  •  Great diary, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
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    RLMiller

    Couple of points:

    First of all, as a bit of an aside, what ARB is calling the 2020 baseline (507 MMtCO2e) has already taken into account (used up, so to speak) a couple of the listed measures (the 26.1 Pavley and 12.0 RPS are what brought the baseline estimates down to 507 from 545). The measures to be implemented need to be additional to that (as per the pdf you link to).

    More importantly, the choice, in general, to work with an emissions reduction budget at all (i.e., the standard choice) rather than a cumulative carbon budget is problematic, and your comparison helps show why.  

    For example, consider this:

    If the "baseline" 2020 estimate were instead 600 or 700 MMtCO2e -- i.e., if we were starting from a much tougher place -- the CA 15 billion-barrel carbon pool would seem smaller. We'd need, say, a "200-value combo pack" of measures, instead of an "80-pack" in 2020, to close the gap between the baseline (say, 627) and the AB32 target (427). So, the oil would only set us back 32 years (6.5 billion/32 = abt. 200 million)...

    The comparison makes it seem as though, in that case, the CA oil wouldn't be AS bad a thing. Meanwhile, in the real world, the oil is even worse news in that case, because of where we're starting from (ignoring the possibility that a world in which we had the ambition to close such a much larger gap would indicate that we're actually starting in a better place, but anyway....).

    Analogously, suppose you were targeting an arguably more appropriate 30% below 1990 levels by 2020, i.e., roughly 300 MMtCO2e, starting from the official 507 baseline? Again, you would need a "200-pack," making the CA oil worth about "30" again, measured in "AB32 years," rather than the original 80. That is, again, the tougher our challenge, the less of a problem the oil seems to be, even though, in reality, the oil is instead more of a problem, the greater our 2020 ambitions.

    States -- along with the rest of us -- need to start thinking in terms of the cumulative carbon budgets from which the Do the Math campaign derives, rather than in terms of frames built around counting emissions reductions from some quasi-business-as-usual "baseline." We need to think about emissions from the bottom up, not from the top down, so to speak (I realize this is an idiosyncratic use of "bottom up" and "top down"):

    If we do such and thus, how much will we be emitting?
    Not:
    If we do such and thus, how much will be be reducing emissions based on a quasi-BAU, imaginary, counter-intuitive, and counter-productive, projected "baseline"?
    Notice that with the "bottom-up" thinking, the more ambitious our cumulative carbon budget, the larger the California-oil carbon pool looms. That is, the "bottom-up" frame matches reality, always a good sign.

    Thanks again; your comparison seems to be a great tool for communicating a central problem of conventional (top down) carbon accounting.

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