Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

A Carbon-Neutral California: Social Ecology and Prospects for 2050 GHG Reduction

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 2513 | Downloads: 2306

Abstract:  How might a large jurisdiction approach carbon neutrality by 2050, and what initiatives might increase the chances of success? This article explores these questions using California as a case study. Current trends as well as multiple modeling studies show that existing policy directions for the state will not be sufficient. Additional initiatives appear needed to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, reduce driving, reach 100 percent renewable electricity, convert existing buildings to zero-net-carbon status, change diet, and reduce consumption. The state’s social ecology does not currently support such changes. Consequently, planners and other professionals need to consider strategic actions to change social ecology as well as climate policy. Potential steps to do this include raising the price of carbon; revising the state’s tax system so as to increase public sector capacity; developing a stronger framework of incentives, mandates, and technical support between levels of government; and expanding educational and social marketing programs aimed at behavior change. A main implication of this analysis is that in many contexts worldwide sustainability planners should consider action on both policy and social ecology levels to maximize chances of success.

Keywords:  2050 goals; California; climate change; carbon neutral; carbon neutrality; climate planning; GHG mitigation; global warming



© Stephen M. Wheeler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.