CARB Approves Plan to Meet California’s Bold Air Quality Goals

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a plan to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade while improving air quality and public health, investing in disadvantaged communities, and supporting jobs and economic growth.

“At a time when science shows us that climate change is happening faster than anticipated, California is responding with a bold plan that rises to meet this global challenge,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “It builds on proven actions and presents a template for other jurisdictions who are also committed to preventing the worst impacts of a warming planet.”

Eleven years ago, the Global Warming Solutions Act set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. California is on track to exceed that target, while the state’s economic growth has continued to outpace the rest of the country, according to CARB.

The 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan, approved unanimously by CARB, sets the state on an ambitious course to reduce climate-changing gases an additional 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This will require California to double the rate at which it has been cutting climate-changing gases.

Following through on these actions the plan estimates, could save the state in 2030 as much as $11 billion dollars in avoided environmental damage from carbon pollution in 2030, according to CARB. Costs of California’s 2017 wildfire season so far are now more than $10 billion.

The Scoping Plan also evaluates reductions of smog-causing pollutants through California’s climate programs. In addition, AB 617 lays the groundwork for new and enhanced efforts to identify and reduce air pollutants and air toxics with a specific focus on communities near the state’s biggest emitters and in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.

The programs detailed in the scoping plan will improve public health while reducing costs associated with healthcare and natural disasters, according to CARB. These include a projected reduction in premature deaths of 3,300 by 2030. The financial benefit from reduced sick days and hospital stays will be more than $1.2 billion in 2030.

Goals of CARB’s latest plan, according to the group, include:

  • More Clean Cars and Trucks-The plan sets out far-reaching programs to incentivize the sale of millions of zero-emission vehicles, drive the deployment of zero-emission trucks, and shift to a cleaner system of handling freight statewide
  • Cleaner Fuels: The Low Carbon Fuel Standard will drive further development of cleaner, renewable transportation fuels to replace fossil fuels
  • Slashing Super-Pollutants-The plan calls for a significant cut in super-pollutants such as methane and HFC refrigerants, which are responsible for as much as 40 percent of global warming
  • Cleaner Industry and Electricity-California’s renewed cap-and-trade program extends the declining cap on emissions from utilities and industries and the carbon allowance auctions. The auctions will continue to fund investments in clean energy and efficiency, particularly in disadvantaged communities
  • Increased Renewable Energy-California’s electric utilities are ahead of schedule meeting the requirement that 33 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. The Scoping Plan guides utilities to 50 percent renewables
  • Smart Community Planning-Local communities will continue developing plans that will further link transportation and housing policies to create sustainable communities
  • Improved Agriculture and Forests-The Scoping Plan also outlines innovative programs to account for and reduce emissions from agriculture, as well as forests and other natural lands.

CARB will continue to look for additional opportunities to reduce greenhouse gases and criteria and air toxics emissions. A Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan will be completed next year to improve access to air emissions data and better air quality in the most burdened communities in California. CARB has also initiated a new rulemaking to design a post 2020 Cap-and-Trade program.

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