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State air board releases 'ambitious' greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan

POSTED December 2, 2016 8:19 p.m.

A new plan by the California Air Resources Board will see the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — "the most ambitious target in North America," according to the air board.

The draft plan analyzes continuing the Cap-and-Trade program, which is currently being used to reach the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The analysis shows how Cap-and-Trade provides more certainty that the state will meet the 2030 goals even if other measures fall short.

The Cap-and-Trade program funds the California Climate Change Investments program, which provides funds for community, local, regional and statewide projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – with at least 35 percent of proceeds to be invested in disadvantaged communities.  To date, approximately $3.4 billion has been invested. 

The draft plan also includes two alternative strategies – one that relies on more direct regulations, and one that includes a carbon tax. All of the strategies propose direct greenhouse gas reductions at oil refineries to improve air quality in California, particularly in disadvantaged communities historically located adjacent to these large stationary sources of emissions. 

“This plan lays out a road map for California – and the rest of the world – to achieve climate goals that were inconceivable only a decade ago,” said Governor Jerry Brown, who established this 2030 target by Executive Order in April 2015 and signed SB 32 in September to codify it. “There are steep hills ahead, but we’ll scale them by continuing to take a series of bold actions, including extending California’s Cap-and-Trade Program.”

Assembly Bill 32, signed in 2006, set California’s initial goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and directed CARB to develop a climate change scoping plan – to be updated every five years – detailing the specific measures needed to reach the target. The new draft plan, required by the Governor’s April 2015 Executive Order, updates the previous scoping plan to account for the new 2030 target codified in Senate Bill 32 and reflects input from 18 public workshops and community meetings, numerous state government agencies and CARB’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee. 

California has been reducing emissions through a series of efforts, including more fuel-efficient cars and zero emission vehicles, low-carbon fuels, renewable energy, Cap-and-Trade regulations, waste diversion from landfills, water conservation and improvements to energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

“Now more than ever, the nation – and the world – are looking to California for leadership on climate change and air quality. Denial is not an option. We must plan, invest and transform,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This draft plan builds on California’s decade-long success in transforming the state’s economy. It sets in place a public process to develop the policies that will create continued opportunities for innovation and investment, benefit disadvantaged communities and ensure California continues to lead the fight against the global threat of climate change.” 

CARB will release another update to the plan in January 2017 – following a December workshop – which will include detailed economic and environmental analyses and document the social cost of carbon, and the range of greenhouse gas, criteria pollutant and toxic pollutant emission reductions from each proposed measure in the plan as required by Assembly Bill 197 – companion legislation to Senate Bill 32. The plan is expected to be finalized for consideration in Spring 2017.

The public can review the draft plan and submit comments by 5 p.m. Dec. 16 at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/scopingplan.htm

 

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