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CARB Releases First Draft Plan for Ambitious 2030 Climate Goals

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December 19, 2016

CARB has released an initial draft plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, as stipulated in SB 32. The Discussion Draft 2030 Target Scoping Plan Update recommends several potentially contentious strategies for reaching the state’s ambitious climate goal—the most aggressive target in North America, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

The draft plan includes expanding the beleaguered cap-and-trade program, building the market for near-zero-emission and zero-emission vehicles, relying more on low-carbon fuels, and potentially instituting more direct regulations like emissions standards for industrial sources—refineries, for instance—or a carbon tax. All of the strategies are aimed particularly at reducing harmful emissions in disadvantaged communities that neighbor the state’s worst polluters, including oil refineries and freight corridors.

“All the goals laid out in the draft plan are great,” said Coalition President Thomas Lawson. “And the fact that the draft plan recognizes the ability of the near-zero NOx natural gas engine to help California meet its climate standards is incredible progress for our industry. The industry needs to take action immediately to build on that progress, and to accelerate future technologies currently in the R&D stages.”

The draft notes that regardless of the final plan, achieving the 2030 goal will require contributions from all sectors of the economy. CARB hosted its first public workshop to discuss its initial proposals on Dec. 16, with a focus on reviewing the economic modeling and gathering stakeholder input.

Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the cap-and-trade program and this year’s disappointing auction results, CARB recommends continuing the program as the main mechanism to shrink greenhouse gas emissions. In its press release, the agency said its analysis shows the cap-and-trade program “provides more certainty that the state will meet the 2030 goals even if other measures fall short,” and pointed out that the program has so far invested $3.4 billion in funds for community, local, regional, and statewide projects to reduce emissions.

“We definitely need diverse and stable funding options for clean transportation projects. Although people are on the fence about cap and trade, it’s important to note that the program has created some long-term stability to support extending the Low Carbon Fuel Standard,” said Lawson. “We look forward to stronger auctions to replenish last year’s $900 million expenditure.”

The draft plan also recommends fast-tracking the replacement of higher-polluting vehicles, building infrastructure to divert organics from landfills, and further funding public transit. However, CARB hasn’t indicated where the funds for these projects would come from.

CARB relied on contributions from several state agencies and CARB’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and input from 18 public workshops and community meetings held to formulate the draft plan. The next update, to be released in January, will include detailed economic and environmental analyses. CARB expects to have a final plan ready for board consideration by next spring. Meanwhile, the agency is accepting comments from the public online.

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