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Emissions fall under California's cap-and-trade program

 (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Industries regulated under California’s cap-and-trade program reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5% in 2016, according to new data released by state officials. 

Richard Corey, executive director of the California Air Resources Board, said the numbers show the state is on track to meet its emission-reduction targets in 2020 and 2030. 

“This is also further proof that cap-and-trade is now part of the fabric of the California economy,” he said in a statement. 

The cap-and-trade program requires oil refineries, food processors and other industries to purchase permits to release emissions into the atmosphere, a system intended to create a financial incentive to cut pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this summer to extend the program until 2030.

The nearly 5% reduction outpaces the state’s progress in previous years, which ranged from 0.7% to almost 2%. 

Chris Busch, research director at Energy Innovation, a San Francisco think tank, said the results were “definitely better than expected.”

However, he reiterated concerns that there are too many permits available in the cap-and-trade market, something that could make it more difficult for the state to achieve its emission-reduction goals. 

"That could eventually weigh down the effectiveness of the system," Busch said. 

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