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Pollution, poverty, and race collide in many other disadvantaged communities across California — and the country — and some argue that the state’s climate policies haven’t helped. While California has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 13% since their peak in 2004, many residents still suffer from high levels of air pollution — much of it produced by fossil fuels.
In particular, controversy has dogged California’s cap-and-trade policy, which took effect in 2013 and regulates roughly 450 entities accounting for 85% of California’s emissions. The system works by setting a limit on the total amount of greenhouse gases released by refineries, power plants, and other large emitters, and requires polluters to obtain permits to cover their share. The overall “cap” lowers every year, forcing polluters to reduce their emissions or purchase allowances from others who do.