California De-Carbonization Policy Drivers

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California Legislation Policy Drivers

California's climate change and air quality goals for 2030 aims to reduce the emissions from different sectors. One major sector is transportation. Electric vehicles and the electrification of the transportation sector will have a significant impact.

Climate Change and Air Quality Goals: 2030

  • To meet these goals, timely and proactive action is required. Policymakers and stakeholders need to align their goals and create a systematic approach to meet these ambitious goals.
  • Synchronizing programs with market activities presents an opportunity to reduce the financial burden on customers and the economy.
  • Emission by sector is as follows; transportation contributes 39%, transportation-related contributes 6%, electric power contributes 19%, agriculture contributes 8%, industrial contributes 17%, and residential and commercial contributes 11%.

Electric Cars

Transportation Electrification

Research Strategy

Our research attempted to identify publications, reports, and studies on the state of the Californian environment and policies that were set in place to address/mitigate the environmental issues. Our research focused on transportation electrification and vehicle electrification aspects.
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California De-Carbonization Policy Initiatives

In the last few years, many public policies have been approved in California as a result of climate change’s pact. As a result, the state has developed many initiatives to encourage de-carbonization, electrification plans, and air quality improvements. Some main initiatives are the Cap-and-Trade Program, the Electric Program Investment Charge Program (EPIC) and the Clean Air Technology Initiative (CATI).


  • The Cap-and-Trade program is one of the main de-carbonization initiatives developed based on AB 32 (Assembly Bill 32), an environmental public policy approved in 2006. The project calls for California’s biggest polluters to pay for tons of carbon emissions they produce.
  • Cap-and-Trade sets a limit on CO₂ (carbon dioxide) emissions for large companies in the state. When the company exceeds the emission limit, it pays the state an amount charged on each excess metric ton of CO₂. They use the money collected in other de-carbonization initiatives.
  • Companies that pollute below the defined limit may sell carbon emission “licenses”. They sell licenses at auctions and part of the proceeds goes back to the Cap-and-Trade program.
  • Each year, the initiative reduces the number of concessions for pollutant gas emissions, a way to achieve the objectives defined in AB 32 (2006). In 2019, they auctioned $346 million licenses.
  • In the first half of 2019, Cap-and-Trade raised $900 million. I distributed the money among over 32,700 projects that aimed to combat climate change. Installations of solar panels in less privileged communities, implementation of clean energy in agricultural areas, promotion of electric cars and measures to contain forest wildfires are some assisted projects.
  • Since 2013, the initiative has ensured the preservation of over 500,000 acres of native forests and the planting of an additional 50,000 trees in urban areas, which is improving local air quality. It also created 462 new public transport agencies, encouraging a reduction in using private vehicles.
  • The initiative was successful and the carbon emission rates expected for 2016 and 2017 were lower than the stipulated targets. Cap-and-Trade would be closed in 2020 but, because of the results, they extended it until 2030. The rates of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reduced and projects promoted with the money raised by the program are increasing electrification projects.


  • SB 350, law approved in 2015, contemplates the set of public policies known as the “Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act”. After approval, the California Energy Commission was created, a public body responsible for developing initiatives that promote clean energy, such as the “Electric Program Investment Charge Program — EPIC”.
  • EPIC promotes development research into clean, renewable energy and electrification alternatives in California. This initiative has an annual collection of $130 million.
  • It centers the ongoing research on technological advances for electrical networks in companies, buildings and transport, decentralized electrical networks and making these implements accessible to disadvantaged communities in the state.
  • One of the research funded by EPIC in 2019 was the discovery of Nuvve. The company could show that electric vehicles (EV) can share its battery during charging, cutting energy consumption in half. The action is already underway, with 50 vehicles distributed throughout California.
  • EPIC program is one of those responsible for benefiting less privileged communities during the energy transition process. The poorest areas of California are also the most polluted areas. EPIC implements clean energy initiatives in these regions and encourages companies that get support for their projects to do the same.
  • This set of actions stimulates California’s electrification plans and, as a consequence, the improvement of air quality.


  • The “Clean Air Technology Initiative” (CATI) Project started in 2011 and is part of the CARB Proposed Scoping Plan initiatives. Its main aim is to improve air quality in California, based on implementing technological solutions that reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere and low emissions.
  • The initiative results from the union of different state agencies, such as California Energy Commission (CEC), California Air Resources Board (CARB), South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD). They install it on the southern Californian coast and in the San Joaquin Valley basin.
  • These two regions of the state had very high levels of air pollution and therefore were chosen as places to implement CATI. The initiative aims to transform this area into a technological application model so that the same procedures can be applied in other regions that also suffer from air pollution.
  • One technology being tested in the region is a "biogas system" that reduces the emission of polluting gases. Besides good results, the equipment has low operating costs.
  • Another project tested in the area is developing electric tractors with zero carbon emissions, to replace heavy-duty vehicles powered by diesel. Trucks, agricultural vehicles and loaders are also being tested — major polluters in California.
  • One of the major obstacles to air cleaning and carbon reduction is high technological costs. This initiative aims to transform this reality, making it possible to clean air in California, showing other countries and the state that it is an achievement.

Research Strategy

Our research team used sources such as official reports, government websites, articles and environmental studies to identify examples of de-carbonization initiatives in California. The research focused on ongoing projects that aim to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, improve air quality and electrification plans.