California’s carbon emissions fell 9% in the first year of the pandemic

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – California’s global warming emissions fell nearly 9% in 2020 from a year earlier, as pandemic restrictions kept people at home, out of their cars, and out of the way. I work most of the year.

Data released Wednesday marks California’s largest one-year drop in emissions and records a similar reduction nationwide. An official warned that the data cannot be used as an indicator for future trends because the pandemic has caused unprecedented but temporary economic changes.

“This year will be considered an outlier,” Steven Cliff, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, told reporters before the data was released.

Indeed, data from the Global Carbon Project indicated a rebound in global emissions in 2021 once pandemic restrictions around the world began to ease.

Much of the decline came from fewer people driving in the early months of the pandemic, when schools and office buildings closed and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom ordered people to stay home. Emissions from passenger cars, delivery trucks, and other means of transportation are by far California’s largest source and the most stubborn to crack. But they fell by 16% in 2020, according to the air board.

Miles traveled in light passenger cars fell 44% in April 2020 compared to the same month the year before, said Nicole Dolney, head of the emissions inventory branch of the air board of directors.

Elsewhere, industrial emissions fell by 9% due to declining demand for oil and gas production and refining. Residential and commercial emissions fell by 4%, likely because warmer weather meant homes and businesses turned on their heaters less, he said.

California is at the forefront of many areas of US climate policy, adopting some of the earliest and most aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. By 2045, the state is committed to carbon neutrality, to be achieved by drastically reducing emissions from vehicles, buildings and other sources and relying on technology to suck the remaining carbon out of the air.

Under Newsom’s direction, the airline council recently approved a policy to end the sale of most new gas cars in the state by 2045.

Overall, California has some of the lowest per capita emissions among the states. In 2020, the state accounted for about 6% of total U.S. emissions, based on comparison with EPA data. But the state, with around 39 million people, is home to 12% of the country’s population.

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