California, China, India Commit to New Clean Energy, Sustainability Goals

With the United Nations climate change conference in Paris looming, the governments of China, India and California have each taken new strides toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting the use of renewable energy.

The moves should provide momentum going into the Paris talks in December and encourage other governments to take similar steps. And the range of activities the three governments are committing to should also spur more investment in clean energy and storage technologies, experts say.

California: Half of its Energy from Renewables by 2030, Doubling Energy Efficiency

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this month that will see an expansion of renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The new law commits the nation’s most populous state to generating at least half of its electricity from renewables by 2030. It also calls for a doubling of energy efficiency in the state’s houses, offices and industrial site, the Times says.

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Brown and State Senate leader Kevin de León had been pushing for a provision that would have cut the state’s total gasoline usage in half, but that measure was defeated.

Experts note that the new law will spark the building of more solar and wind power plants, the Times says.  It should also mean California will invest more in energy storage technologies, they add.

China: The World’s Largest Carbon Trading Market by 2017

China is also taking steps. At the end of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s state visit to the White House last month, Xi and President Obama announced that China will take several steps that build on the 2014 agreement between China and the US for both countries to limit their emissions.

Among China’s new commitments are setting up a pollution trading system, which is expected to be the world’s largest carbon market when it launches in 2017, and committing more than $3 billion to help developing countries reduce their use of fossil fuels, Bloomberg reports.  China’s electric utilities will also favor energy from renewable sources — a move that, as in California, should lead to more renewable power plant construction — and limit its financing of infrastructure projects that have high carbon emissions. And both China and the US agreed to implement new fuel efficiency requirements for heavy trucks by 2019, according to Bloomberg.

India: 40% of its Energy from Non-Fossil Fuel Sources by 2030 

Separately, India announced on Oct. 2 that it will produce 40% of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and will also cut its carbon dioxide emissions’ intensity by about a third, according to Nature.

India is the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas producer, and it was the last large economy to make a climate commitment ahead of the Paris talks, Nature says. The country’s per-capita greenhouse gas emissions are far below the global average, and some 300 million people there don’t have access to electricity.

India’s submission to the UN, known as its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), focuses on clean energy, including solar power, which the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has already strongly backed, according to The Guardian. Currently, the country’s predominant supply of renewable energy comes from wind and biomass.  According to the UN submission, it will enhance its solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022 from about 4060 MW in 2015. It also promised to plant more forests by 2030 to absorb carbon emissions, says The Guardian.

India’s climate change commitments will cost at least $2.5 trillion, some of which will be covered by international aid, Nature reports.

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