California’s Carbon Challenge: Scenarios for Achieving 80% Emissions Reduction in 2050

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Meeting the State of California’s 2050 target of 80% lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from a 1990 baseline is a challenging goal that cannot be met without a portfolio of measures and strategies that span both energy demand and energy supply.

This study focuses on energy emissions with the target of reducing energy emissions by 80% relative to 1990 energy emissions. Meeting the 2050 target requires both a sustained commitment to aggressively develop existing technologies as well as an aggressive and sustained policy commitment to reshape and ultimately transform the state’s energy system. The 2050 GHG target for California appears achievable, but requires significant changes in the way we produce energy, deliver energy services, and utilize energy.

Our 2050 Base Case energy system has four critical elements:

  • aggressive energy efficiency across all sectors (at technical potential levels for buildings and industry);
  • clean or low-carbon electricity;
  • electrification of vehicles as well as buildings and to a lesser extent, industry heat; and
  • low-carbon biofuels.

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