The United Nations Conference on Climate Change currently being held in Paris seemingly has everyone focused on this issue. Oddly enough, even though they can’t negotiate for the United States (nor, are the U.S. negotiators likely to listen to them), California has a large delegation in France’s capital, including Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, and a host of legislators and business leaders. Instead, they hope to highlight California’s aggressive stance on climate change to coax others to follow. Since California only emits 1% of global CO2 emissions, its efforts are useless if global action doesn’t occur. But this does raise the question of just how effective California policy choices are when it comes to reducing emissions.

It is undeniable that California has been among the most aggressive in tackling climate change in the nation. Dating back to Governor Ronald Reagan signing the California Environmental Quality Act, California’s public policy has had a particularly green hue about it. But passing laws just for rhetoric’s sake isn’t helpful (and actually could be detrimental). Policy should achieve its goals and that requires assessing its results. One would assume, given California’s aggressive anti-carbon policies, that California’s emission reductions would exceed that of the rest of the United States – especially given the U.S.’s overall lackadaisical approach to climate change. But probably surprising to most, California doesn’t perform any better.

Using U.S. Energy Information Administration data between 2000 and 2013, we can assess California and the other 49 states along three key metrics: absolute CO2 emissions, per capita emissions, and carbon intensity of the economy. One item to note about the EIA data; it calculates emissions by location at which they are consumed, not developed. This provides a more honest picture of emission consumption. For instance, it wouldn’t be fair to attribute CO2 emissions from a fossil fuel electricity plant in Arizona if that electricity is consumed by Californians.

In 2000, California emitted 381.8 million metric tons of CO2 vs. 353.1 million metric tons in 2013. This represents a 0.6% average annual decrease. Meanwhile, the remaining 49 states emitted 5.5 billion metric tons in 2000 decreasing to 4.9 billion metric tons in 2013 – a 0.7% annual average decrease. We find similar results if we assess CO2 emissions per capita and CO2 intensity of the economy, which examines carbon emissions relative to economic output. During the time period, California’s per capita metric tons of CO2 decreased an annual average of 1.5% compared to 1.4% for the other 49 states. And in terms of metric tons of CO2 per real GDP, California’s carbon intensity of the economy decreased an annual average of 2.2% compared to 2.4% for the rest of the nation. In other words, California has performed over the last decade-plus essentially the same as the rest of the country.

But, one will say, this doesn’t account for California’s population and economic output growth. If both grew faster than the rest of nation, California would have had to do more just to keep in line with the other 49 states. However, again, on an annual average basis, California’s population (0.9% average annual growth) and economy (1.7%) grew essentially at the same rate as the rest of the country (0.9% annual average population growth and 1.5% annual average real GDP growth).

One of the many reasons California doesn’t perform better than the rest of the country is the Golden State’s love for automobiles. 54% of California’s CO2 emissions come from the transportation sector versus an average of 34% for the rest of the country. Despite California being home to about half of the nation’s zero-emission vehicles, they still only account for 0.5% of passenger vehicles in the state. Until non-fossil fuel transportation technology becomes more widely available (and public transportation options become more ubiquitous and user-friendly), California’s efforts to reduce transportation-related emissions will remain around the margins. Another contributing factor is that California – because of the environmental movements’ irrational position against nuclear power – excludes the carbon-free electricity option from its list of qualified renewable power. Thus, in order for the state to maintain a reliable electricity grid while also increasing its renewable mandate (of which solar and wind are intermittent sources), California has to rely on natural gas for power stabilization (a lot of which is out-of-state and hence, unregulated by Californian policy). If California removed its de facto moratorium on nuclear power, this carbon-free source could replace the carbon-emitting natural gas.

Yet, while California’s aggressive climate change policymaking hasn’t yielded dividends in CO2 emission reduction, it has produced the expected downsides – making energy more expensive. For instance, California’s all sector average electricity price in September 2015 was almost 60% higher than the rest of the nation’s average price and California’s average regular gasoline price was 33% above the national average (without California) as of November 30th. Policy decisions always have trade-offs. Those trade-offs need to be understood and debated because when looking at the facts, it becomes clear that California’s war on climate change is more rhetoric than results.