The 2020 wildfire season alone released more carbon dioxide than what California reduced through years of emission cuts.
California is a recognized leader in climate policy, but a wildfire crisis is threatening to unwind progress towards the state’s ambitious climate goals. In 2006, with the passage of AB 32, California set a then-unprecedented target of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Having achieved this goal, California dramatically upped the ante with the passage of SB 32, requiring a 40% reduction of GHGs, and again earlier this year with AB 1279, which requires the state to become carbon neutral by 2045 or earlier. Despite notable progress to date, a recent university study found that GHGs emitted from California’s 2020 wildfire season alone equated to more than double of all the GHG reductions the state achieved since 2003.