California renews climate action goals just as Trump assumes presidency

On Friday of last week, California strengthened its efforts to fight climate change, despite signals that the federal government will pull back its commitment.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has issued a proposed climate action Scoping Plan delineating the measures that the state will implement to achieve its 2030 emissions reduction target. The target—to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels—is the most stringent in North America according to CARB. It was set by the governor in 2015 and codified into law by the state legislature last year. Since then, CARB has worked with multiple agencies and stakeholders, including the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, to propose a set of actions that will allow California to meet that target.

The plan builds on California’s past efforts to curb emissions; notably, it extends the Cap-and-Trade program to 2030 and continues investments in clean energy, increasing the Renewables Portfolio Standard in electricity to 50 percent by 2030. It also reinforces the focus on zero and near-zero emissions vehicles in both public and private transport, calling for 4.5 million zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2030. It further calls for an 18 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transport fuels.
The plan details new approaches to act on climate change, including a requirement that oil refineries cut their GHG emissions by 20 percent. It recognizes the need to reduce emissions from agriculture and calls for integrated land conservation and devlepoment strategies that can preserve the state’s lands as net carbon sinks.
CARB’s Scoping Plan does not only detail policy actions, it further analyzes the economic impact of different carbon pricing policy scenarios and calculates the estimated range of GHG emissions reduction resulting from each proposed measure. This analysis identifies the Cap-and-Trade as the most cost effective approach that still guarantees the state will achieve its 2030 goals even if other measures fall short.

California officials are hopeful the plan will continue to deliver the many benefits of the state’s past climate actions, from improved public health to a growing, greener economy. “The plan will help us meet both our climate and our clean air goals in the coming decades and provide billions of dollars in investments to cut greenhouse gases, smog and toxic pollution in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. It is also designed to continue to drive creative innovation, generating good new jobs in the growing clean technology sector,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. CARB further projects that the plan will set the state’s economy, the sixth largest in the world, on a trajectory to achieve 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.


(Image: Legando a LAX. Photo credit: Roger Schultz/Flickr.)