How Will California Slash Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80% By 2050?

These are heady days for us California climate policy watchers. Last month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) reported that the state's carbon emissions declined in 2011 for the third straight year. Last week, CARB convened its second successful carbon allowance auction. And with each day, it seems, the state sets a new solar power record.

A host of factors explain California's carbon-cutting success, among them the Silicon Valley innovation engine, world-class universities and national laboratories, and a Democratic-controlled Governor's Office and Legislature. But perhaps the most important factor, the one absent at the national level, is a legally binding plan to reduce carbon emissions.

On February 13, Assembly member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), a freshman state lawmaker elected in November 2012, introduced a bill (AB 284) that requires the state to plan for carbon reductions through 2050. AB 284 does not codify Schwarzenegger's 2050 GHG reduction target (more on this below) but it would require the California Energy Commission (CEC) to convene a new "Road to 2050 Board."