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What is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)?

What is the Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as GWSA, and how has it helped California to meet their emission reduction goals in the midst of climate change?
Business
2023-02-03T00:00:00.000Z
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States and governments around the world have been implementing legislation in order to curb emissions and fight against climate change, and the Global Warming Solutions Act, or the GWSA – is one of many examples.

How does the Global Warming Solutions Act help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help states throughout the country address climate change?

What is the Global Warming Solutions Act?

The Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as the GWSA, or Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32 for short), is a law that originated in the state of California in an attempt to fight global warming through a concise program aimed to mitigate excessive emissions across the state. The Global Warming Solutions Act was initially created by Fran Pavely and Fabian, both previous assembly members and speakers for the California Assembly respectively. AB32 was signed in 2006 by Arnold Schwarznegger – who was serving as the governor of California at the time.

Since the first passing of the Global Warming Solutions Act in California back in 2006, other states have created their own Global Warming Solutions Acts in accordance with their own state’s emissions reduction targets – such as Massachusetts and Vermont.

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What are the main goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act?

The main goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to prevent further global warming by reducing the rate of emissions being produced. The Global Warming Solutions Act helps to accomplish this by encouraging states to create personalized plans in reference to each source of excessive emissions.This helps states to determine where the greatest source of emissions in the state is, as well as decipher which measures can be put in place to reduce their environmental impact.

The Global Warming Solutions Act is designed to facilitate greater emission reductions and to help states achieve their environmental targets. For instance, California seeks the assistance of CARB, or the California Air Resources Board to help create limits on greenhouse emissions across the state in order to ensure the success of the Global Warming Solutions Act and help California achieve their emission reduction goals. Seeking the assistance of other boards or organizations to create personalized plans to reduce emissions may not be as likely without the incentive of the Global Warming Solutions Act. 

Without the Global Warming Solutions Act, California would be less likely to seek the assistance of third parties to help them reduce their emissions. Some of the ways that CARB has helped California with their GSWA plan is by setting regulations for businesses and establishing electricity generations within the state. One of the primary goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act is to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions directly from the source of activity, instead of relying on carbon offsetting projects and the use of the carbon market. The use of either is not discouraged, but should be used in addition to the other carbon emission reduction measures expected to be taken.

How did the Global Warming Solutions Act get started?

The Global Warming Solutions Act was initially passed back in 2006 due to the dire need for climate change reform. In fact, the need for legislation like the Global Warming Solutions Act is even more pivotal than it was almost 20 years ago – as the IPCC has recently shared that increased human activity of high carbon emitting activities is the root cause of accelerated climate change

The GWSA was created as a method to rectify the rising global temperatures caused by excessive human activity, as these temperatures have only continued to rise. However, climate change isn’t only demonstrated through increasing temperatures and excessive heat waves – but California has been subject to devastating natural disasters provoked by global warming, such as wildfires, droughts, and megastorms. These all serve as reasons for the creation of the Global Warming Solutions Act.

The Global Warming Solutions Act states itself that global warming is impacting the economic viability and health of residents of California – such as by a newfound lack of natural resources and increased problems with air quality. The environment isn’t the only thing that is bound to suffer due to climate change, but also businesses – especially those in agriculture and forestry. This serves as another reason for the development of the Global Warming Solutions Act, as California remained adamant to preserve their economic well-being.

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How are the goals for the Global Warming Solutions Act achieved? 

The goals for the Global Warming Solutions Act must be redeveloped every five years in order to ensure success in reducing emissions. Therefore, the success of the previous goals set forth by the GWSA are evaluated every half decade – the goals will be made more rigorous if the previous emission reduction goals have not been met. 

GWSA requires third party entities, where in the case of California it is CARB, to develop a scoping plan for the Global Warming Solutions Act. The first scoping plan was not proposed until December 2008, with the first update having been made in May 2014. Despite the necessary additional step, this helps states implementing the Global Warming Solutions Act ensure that their efforts to reduce emissions remain effective. 

The goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act are achieved through the help of several different parties, making GWSA a collective effort and accomplishment. Just a few of the entities dedicated in the support and implementation of the GWSA include the California Air Resources Board, California Natural Resources Agency, and Departments concerned with food, agriculture, wildlife, transportation, and recycling services.

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How does California fund the Global Warming Solutions Act?

Given climate funding was not as prevalent in the early 2000s as it is in the present day, such as with the new climate bill and New York’s Scoping Plan – it’s easy to question how the state of California acquired funding for the Global Warming Solutions Act in the first place.

The Global Warming Solutions Act was one of the first programs in the state of California, let alone the country, to provide a comprehensive guide in how to reduce emissions – making it not only a valuable asset in the fight against climate change, but also beneficial for the economy in the long run. GSWA companies emit excessive greenhouse gas emissions to be taxed, and those funds are used to fuel the Global Warming Solutions Act. Examples of entities subject to these taxations include oil refineries, power plants, and other sources of industrial activity. The funds from these emission taxes are then used to pay for the expenses necessary for CARB and other programs supporting the Global Warming Solutions Act to function. 

In addition to the emissions taxes collected from high emitting sources of activity, California also makes use of various investments to fund the Global Warming Solutions Act and its supportive programs. For instance, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, also known as GGRF – helps to financially support projects that will result in long-term emission reductions in business across the state. GGRF is funded through a cap-and-trade program developed through CARB, and works in a similar manner to how the proposed New York Scoping Plan will, if passed. 

Has the Global Warming Solutions Act acquired adequate funding to be deemed a success?

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Has the Global Warming Solutions Act been successful?

The Global Warming Solutions Act has in fact been successful, as California has been able to set new emission reduction goals following the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act – revealing that GSWA has made a difference in pollution in the state of California.

However, it is worth noting that perhaps the greatest success of the Global Warming Solutions Act has been its influence on other states to develop their own GWSA plans – such as Vermont and Massachusetts.

Massachusetts implemented their own GSWA in August of 2008, citing the need for the transition to the use of clean energy, an improved economy including a more robust job market, and helping the state to achieve their climate goals. The Global Warming Solutions Act in Massachusetts makes use of scientific research to reduce their emissions, in a similar manner as the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

Therefore, one of the greatest successes of the Global Warming Solutions Act in California is how it has influenced other states across the country to take similar measures. In fact, Massachusetts has expressed their desire to get other states in the New England region on board with their efforts to reduce emissions – and their plea was successful with one other state: Vermont. 

Vermont has also established their own Global Warming Solutions Act, determined to build off the success of the Massachusetts GWSA. The Global Warming Solutions Act in Vermont will seek the assistance of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to implement the regulations necessary to reduce emissions and protect the surrounding environment. The GSWA in Vermont will also encourage the development of rural resilience, carbon capture and storage systems, and assisting underfunded communities. Therefore, the original GSWA in California is not only adhering to emission reduction guidelines, but following ESG values and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overall well-rounded and viable society. 

How else has California implemented legislation to fight against global warming?

The Global Warming Solutions Act may have been the beginning of emission reduction tactics to be implemented by the state of California, but it certainly isn’t the end – with several new pieces of climate legislation continuing to be passed by the state.

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Most notably, California recently passed new environmental legislation last September to encourage residents of the state to move towards a clean energy society: such as by banning the purchasing of gasoline powered vehicles starting in 2035 – pushing citizens to make use of public transportation or invest in an electric car to reduce the state's emissions. The new regulations will also help to improve public transportation in the state, control nuclear power plants such as the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, and encourage the use of renewable energy sources.

The Global Warming Solutions Act remains as a role model and baseline for current legislation and future regulations to be passed in the state of California, and if the golden state can keep up at this rate – who knows how many states could improve their commitment in the fight against climate change.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the Global Warming Solutions Act, or the GWSA, has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

The Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as GWSA, is just one of the many environmental regulations your company might have to comply with. Check out our legislation tracker here to see which rules your company has to adhere to.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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