California Establishes Historic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program

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California has become the first state in the nation to require industries that emit greenhouse gases to report how much they are spewing into the air, beginning next year.


The California Air Resources Board (CARB) set mandatory reporting guidelines for a wide array of emissions sources, including refineries, cement plants, power plants and large combustion devices. These industries have been reporting other pollutants to CARB for years, but the requirement to report greenhouse gases is a first.

“The new regulations are the foundation for what will probably be the most comprehensive greenhouse gas guidelines in the world,” says Karen Douglas, director of the California Climate Initiative. “This pioneering effort to begin clamping down on global warming pollutants is reflective of California’s leadership both nationally and internationally.”

In other action, CARB also finalized the process of quantifying the amount of greenhouse gases released from all sources in the state in 1990. Quantifying these pollutants is critical for implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which sets the 1990 level as the maximum allowable quantity of global warming pollution in the state for 2020.

In many ways, this quantification is almost as critical as the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases, Douglas says.

“California now has a tangible goal around which it can build regulatory programs for AB 32,” she says. “This data is imperative for programs like cap-and-trade, which give polluters the flexibility to either reduce emissions onsite or purchase reductions from others who have overcomplied with emissions limits.”

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