Covering California’s greenhouse gas emissions trends and the role of climate policies and other factors, CALmatters spoke with Near Zero about its work on Assessing California’s progress towards its 2020 climate target and its report, California’s climate emissions are falling, but cap-and-trade is not the cause:

According to analyses from the air board and independent experts, last year’s emissions drops came about not because of technological breakthroughs or drastic pollution reductions from oil refineries or other industries, nor did the lauded cap-and-trade program make a signifiant difference.

It was the rain.

Record winter precipitation, especially in the northern part of the state, brought hydroelectric dams back into play and allowed utilities to rely less on gas-fired power.

The governor expended enormous political capital pushing through legislation to extend cap and trade until 2030. At one point during this summer’s debate, he addressed a state Senate committee and told legislators, “This is the most important vote of your life.”

Given the emphasis he’s placed on the program, it seems to under-deliver on real carbon-cutting results. But in an interview with CALmatters, Brown denied he gives cap and trade primacy over other of the state’s carbon-cutting programs.

“That’s not true. I don’t talk only about it,” he said during the interview in Bonn. “I talk about solar, about electric cars. Energy efficiency. You want to say cap and trade is not that important (for greenhouse gas reduction). I know that. I’m Mr. ‘It Ain’t That Much.’ It isn’t that much. Everybody here is hype, hype to the skies.”

Researchers have reached the same conclusion. Analysts at Near Zero, a think tank affiliated with the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, presented an analysis of state climate policy at an Energy Seminar in October and found that the last economic recession is responsible for about half of observed greenhouse gas reductions since the passage of the law that instituted cap and trade.

This finding is consistent with a Legislative Analyst’s Office report from earlier this year.

Read the full article, “California’s emissions dip—but climate policies get less credit than the weather,” by Julie Cart, on the CALmatters website.