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SEI brief

How limiting oil production could help California meet its climate goals

This brief examines how California could limit the production of its principal energy production oil and the resulting implications for global GHG emissions.

Peter Erickson, Michael Lazarus / Published on 27 February 2018
Download  Discussion brief on California oil / PDF / 2 MB
Three pumpjacks move in synchrony as an oil worker looks on

Three pumpjacks move in synchrony as an oil worker looks on. They are located
in the Kern River Oil Field outside Bakersfield, California. Photo: Sarah Craig / Faces of Fracking.

By many measures, the U.S. State of California has put in place climate policies that stand among the world’s most ambitious. But even climate leaders like California will have to go well beyond existing actions to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement – namely, keeping warming well below 2 degrees, plus reaching new zero emissions globally by the second half of the century.

In 2017, California’s Air Resources Board committed to studying “supply-side opportunities to reduce production of energy sources.” This brief considers how limiting oil production would fit into the state’s climate portfolio – and how it would affect global GHG emissions.

It finds that restricting California oil production would likely decrease global GHG emissions by an amount similar to other key policies in the state’s recently adopted climate Scoping Plan. It also identifies several policy approaches to limiting oil production that the state could consider.


Discussion brief on California oil / PDF / 2 MB

SEI authors

Peter Erickson

SEI Affiliated Researcher


Michael Lazarus
Michael Lazarus

Senior Scientist


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