Energy

New Report Inadvertently Shows Texas Is Better At Fighting Global Warming Than California

A new report touting “green innovation” in California actually shows Texas has done more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and grow its economy, despite not having stringent state global warming programs.

“California has produced consistent emissions reductions hand-in-hand with striking economic growth over the past nine years,” F. Noel Perry, founder of Next10, the environmental group publishing the “Green Innovation Index.”

“Since the passage of AB 32 in 2006, California’s GDP per capita has grown by nearly $5,000 per person — nearly double the national average — while California emissions per capita dropped by 12 percent,” Perry wrote, referring to the Golden State’s signature global warming law.

Yet, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of economic output, Texas outperformed California on several key measures.

Texas reduced its emissions per $10,000 of economic output about 66 percent from 1990 to 2015, according to Next10’s report. California only reduced their emissions to output ratio 42 percent during that time.

Texas’s economy still generates more emissions per $10,000 than California in absolute terms, but the Lone Star State has made more progress in reducing its emissions despite not having laws to fight global warming.

Texas also made the reductions while ramping up oil and natural gas production since the early 2000s. California, however, has seen both oil and natural gas production decline, contributing to their overall emissions decrease.

California not only has a cap-and-trade system to clamp down on carbon dioxide emissions, the state also has a green energy mandate, law to reduce fuel emissions and subsidies for electric cars.

California “appropriated more than $1.133 billion for existing and new programs,” Next10 reported. “As of December 2016, about $3.4 billion in climate investments was appropriated for GHG reduction programs, $1.2 billion of which had been implemented to date.”

“These implemented projects are estimated to reduce GHG emissions by 15.2 million MTCO2e over the course of the projects’ lifetimes,” Next10 reported.

Texas has a green energy mandate, energy efficiency goals and subsidies for biofuels, but lacks the statewide “climate action plan,” according to reports. Texas also benefits from federal subsidies for wind power.

Texas has been able to bring online more wind turbines than any other state thanks to its abundant reserves of natural gas, which can backup variable wind power. Texas more than met its green energy mandate, so additional wind power is mostly being driven by federal subsidies.

But the interesting data is buried in charts within Next10’s report.

Californian’s average monthly residential electric bills have rose 9 percent from 2005 to 2015, while Texans’ monthly electric bills fell more than 14 percent during that time. The average American saw their bills increase 6 percent during that decade.

Now, Texans on average still pay more for electricity every month than Californians. That’s because the weather in Texas is more extreme, getting way hotter in summer and colder in winter.

But the per kilowatt cost of electricity in Texas is only 12 cents, while Californians pay 17 cents per kilowatt. Had Texans paid California-level energy prices, their monthly bills would have been 42 percent higher.

Texas’s economy also grew more than California’s from 2005 to 2015. California’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 16 percent, while Texas’s grew nearly 40 percent.

More than just energy policy goes into economic growth. Texas has no state income tax, for example, and a much friendlier business climate than California, according to CNBC. Taxes and regulatory policy can attract or deter businesses and investment, and also convince more people to move to a particular state.

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