On September 27, 2006 the California legislative body and the governor passed Assembly Bill 32 into law, leading the nation and world towards the economic benefits of implementing a global warming emissions cap. The effects of global warming on California could be disastrous (e.g., loss of the Sierra snowpack and rising sea levels). As the tenth largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution in the world, California has chosen to lead the charge by committing to reduce its global warming emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 (11% below business as usual), to 1990 levels by 2020 (25% below business as usual), and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Our sustainability lawyers keep close tabs on climate change laws and regulations. We understand that reducing emissions from the tailpipe alone will not be sufficient to accomplish the goals of climate change laws. GHG emission reductions will also have to be achieved through measures designed to reduce energy consumption and to transition to alternative fuel sources – such as solar, wind, and biodiesel. These changes from business as usual will create opportunities, jobs, and innovation.
To begin with, businesses will likely have to determine their current carbon footprint. Climate change regulations will be put in place to monitor, verify, and report all direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Cities and counties that are taking this seriously are already implementing strategies to consider sustainability issues in land use and redevelopment decisions to focus on in-fill and transportation oriented projects. Indeed, sustainability has quickly become a part of the CEQA environmental review process and sustainability is built into general plan law. Thus, mitigation measures may need to be considered to offset increased greenhouse gas emissions caused by proposed development plans.