New Reports Show Significant Consumer Savings from California Climate Policies

By Alex Jackson, National Resources Defense Council.

For decades now, the principal argument against taking action to mitigate climate change is that we can’t afford it. While this narrative has always distorted the truth relative to the costs of inaction (what we truly can’t afford), it is seized on time and again by the fossil fuel industry and their political allies to thwart progress on climate – even in a state like California that is leading the way.

But in assessing the impact of California’s climate initiatives under the banner of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), now a decade into implementation, two new studies definitively put that notion to rest.

The first, released yesterday by Consumers Union (the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports), looks at the cumulative impact of California’s climate policies on household transportation costs. The key finding? Even after accounting for industry compliance costs, California households are projected to save up to $1,500 annually by 2030 thanks to lower annual fuel bills, and low-income households will experience the largest savings (as a share of income). The key reason? As the researchers, ICF International, put it – “focusing exclusively on vehicle and fuel pricing…can be misleading. Ultimately, consumer expenditures on travel are a function of vehicle and fuel pricing, as well as parameters such as vehicle efficiency and vehicle miles traveled.”