Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Paris Climate Accord, signifying a dramatic change in the nation’s approach to climate change and its effects on our natural resources, infrastructure, and public health. On the same day, California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states to address the existential threat of climate change. California and 14 other states have pledged to meet our share of the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets and reduce GHG emissions by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Photo by Nature Conservancy.
The Paris Agreement
On December 12, 2015, 196 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a legally binding framework for an internationally coordinated effort to tackle climate change. The agreement establishes a goal to reduce global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial averages. The goal is to balance GHG emissions with sequestration efforts resulting in a net reduction in emissions. Each participating nation submitted its own plan to help meet the agreement’s goals, to be reviewed and adjusted every five years as progress is made. The Paris Agreement emphasizes global progress and recognizes that each country has a unique starting point in its aim to combat climate change. Developed countries will lead the way and support developing countries in the effort.
Photo Credit 2 Executive Magazine
The U.S. Climate Alliance
California and other member states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are implementing policies to reduce carbon pollution and other GHGs, promote clean energy deployment, and track and report progress to the global community. In doing so, these states are growing clean energy economies, creating new jobs, protecting human health, and investing in resilient communities.
California Leading the Way
Governor Jerry Brown identified six climate strategy pillars spanning every sector of the economy from transportation to power to energy to land management. A few of the actions underway:
- California’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025 will significantly reduce pollution and GHGs.
- The state is working to decarbonize its electricity sector and reach a target of 50 percent renewable energy. Energy usage goals for new residential construction (zero net energy by 2020) and commercial construction (zero net by 2030) are in place.
- Innovative farm and ranch management practices are being promoted to build adequate organic matter in soil, increase carbon sequestration, and reduce overall GHGs.
California has several funding mechanisms to support strategies and technologies that drive emissions reductions. Known collectively as California Climate Investments and funded through a cap-and-trade program, the state has the only multi-sector GHG emissions trading system in the United States. California Climate Investments stimulates public and private sector investment in cleaner, more efficient technologies and industrial operations. Sixty percent of proceeds are allocated to public transit, affordable housing, sustainable communities, and high-speed rail.
CalRecycle’s own GHG reduction grant programs are funded by California Climate Investments, focusing on recycling of organics and other discards. Primary emphasis is on expanding infrastructure and local programs to divert organics from landfills, where such materials emit methane, a super-pollutant with a climate change impact 70 times greater than carbon dioxide. At a cost of about $4 per ton of GHG reductions, organics and other recycling is the most cost-effective among the state’s climate strategies.
By committing to ambitious efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, California and its partner states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are determined to reverse the effects of climate change. Learn at the U.S. Climate Alliance website, including California’s specific plan to meet the Paris Agreement targets.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 9, 2017
Californians overwhelmingly believe global warming is a serious threat and support the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California. The report survey shows widespread agreement when it comes to acknowledging the threat of climate change and support for state actions to fight the global temperature rise.
“There is broad consensus for the state’s efforts to address climate change, and many support the cap-and-trade system,” PPIC President and CEO Mark Baldassare said in a news release.
According to the report, for which 1,708 California adults were surveyed by phone, 81 percent of Californians believe global warming is a serious threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life. Lower-income residents are more concerned about the climate threat, as are younger Californians.
- 70 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 describe climate change as a “very serious threat to the state’s future.”
- 56 percent of respondents ages 35 to 54 describe climate change as a “very serious threat to the state’s future.”
- 48 percent of respondents age 55 and older describe climate change as a “very serious threat to the state’s future.”
The survey shows, 66 percent of California residents believe the effects of global warming have already begun. The same percentage—66 percent—supports the state making its own policies to address global warming. Support for California acting alone to fight climate change is higher among the state’s largest cities.
- 73 percent of San Francisco Bay area residents support California taking unilateral climate action
- 70 percent of Los Angeles residents support such unilateral action
- 63 percent support the policy in the San Diego area
- 55 percent support California’s “go it alone” climate policies in the Inland Empire
The PPIC survey also found broader support among younger Californians for the state to act alone on climate:
- 75 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 support unilateral action by California.
- 65 percent of those ages 35 to 54 support unilateral action by California.
- 57 percent of respondents age 55 and older support unilateral action by California.
Seventy-two percent of California adults surveyed favor current legislative targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2030. About half of likely voters believe California’s climate policies will result in new jobs.
As an integral part of California’s far-reaching efforts to slow and reverse the effects of climate change, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is implementing programs and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To date, California Climate Investments has allocated $72 million in Cap-and-Trade proceeds to California’s waste sector, primarily through grants to build or expand conventional compost and in-vessel digestion operations. Grants have included $5 million for food waste recovery projects that divert landfill-destined, edible food to Californians in need.
CalRecycle is also tasked with overseeing programs to reduce organic waste disposal in California. When sent to landfills, this material decomposes and emits methane—a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Organic waste accounts for more than one-third of the state’s waste stream.
In September 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishing targets for reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. The law calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics in landfills by 2020 and 75 percent reduction by 2025. It grants CalRecycle the regulatory authority necessary to reach these targets, which also includes 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.
Right now, CalRecycle is engaging waste and recycling businesses, trade associations, and other stakeholders to gather input on the development of regulations to implement SB 1383. Stay up to date on developments and future workshops by joining the SLCP Listserv.Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Aug 24, 2017
Climate change is a hot topic for our country right now. While the vast majority of the scientific community agrees that humans are having an impact on our planet, there are still some who remain skeptical that it exists and is a problem worth solving. Those paying close attention are convinced we need to reduce our impact on the planet because we can already see drastic changes to the landscape of our continents. CNN reported recently that Antarctica’s melting ice will likely lead to changes in winter storms for North America and Europe. Winter storms may be warmer and less frequent. More compelling evidence of climate change seems to unfold on a weekly basis.
Climate Change Defined
Climate change is simple to understand. It is a long-term change in global or regional climate patterns due to increased atmospheric temperatures. Our world is getting warmer because greenhouse gases are trapping the sun’s heat in our atmosphere for longer periods of time, intensified by anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change fueled by various forms of industrialization that have far-reaching impacts. Snowcaps in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are melting, which causes sea levels to rise, and consequently our winter and summer storm cycles are changing.
Climate Change in California: Cause and Effect
California, like any society or economy, contributes to climate change by producing greenhouse gases. California cattle ranches produce manure, which emits methane gas. California’s automobiles produce carbon dioxide gas. Landfilled organic waste also emits methane gas. We have many stationary and mobile sources of greenhouse gasses.
Global climate change has affected California’s environment in several ways. First, irregular weather patterns have contributed to our most recent drought. Less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and less rainfall in the valleys strain agricultural farming resources and residential water supplies. Farmlands are thirsty for water. Californians are encouraged to let their green lawns fade to gold and to take shorter showers. Additionally, drought seasons often result in higher-risk fire seasons. Dry trees are perfect tinderboxes for forest fires.
What Are Greenhouse Gases?
A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs infrared radiation and radiates heat in all directions, which causes the earth’s temperature to rise. It essentially traps heat within our atmosphere. Common greenhouse gases include methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas, and it stays in the atmosphere for a long time. We produce carbon dioxide when we drive cars, use electricity, or use industrial manufacturing methods. Carbon naturally moves through the earth via the carbon cycle, but we are currently producing carbon faster than we are able to remove or sequester it. Methane doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere, but is much more powerful than CO2 – about 70 times more potent. A significant source of methane are the state’s landfills where, due to lack of sufficient oxygen, green waste is unable to compost and generates methane as it decomposes.
How We Create Greenhouse Emissions
Greenhouse gases are the result of an industrialized world that relies upon fossil fuels to make products and transport us from here to there. We know that using public transportation and driving hybrid cars help reduce greenhouse gas We can reduce our impact on the planet by reducing the amount of trash we produce.
Californians dispose an average of 4.7 pounds of trash per person per day. California has set a goal of recycling 75 percent of trash by 2020. A significant portion of this will be organic materials responsible for accelerating climate change when landfilled. We can divert 75 percent of our current waste, and slow the harmful effects of greenhouse gases, by reducing the amount of trash we produce, reusing the materials and products we consume, and diverting the majority of our waste into recycling or composting activities instead of dumping it in the ground.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Mar 2, 2017
- If you had to reduce your daily waste by 75 percent, what could you do differently?
- Do you use a lot of plastic bags for packed lunches? Consider changing to reusable containers or recyclable materials like parchment paper.
- Consider diverting your food waste into a green waste bin or into a personal composting bin. Compost will enrich your garden’s soil and is good for the environment.