LAO Says 2022 Scoping Plan Update Lacks Near-Term Focus 

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has released a report that criticizes the recently adopted 2022 Scoping Plan Update for its lack of a substantive strategy to achieving the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal.  Their conclusion reaffirms our position – that we should not overlook the opportunity for greater emission reductions today because we are too tightly focused on the anticipated benefits of tomorrow.

The Scoping Plan is the state’s primary blueprint for achieving its statutory GHG reduction goals of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2045.  The Plan was first approved by the California Air Resource Board in 2008 and must be updated at least every five years. The 2022 Scoping Plan is the third update.

After recognizing the Plan’s long-term pathway for meeting the state’s 2045 GHG reduction goal, the LAO concludes that “[b]ased on our assessment of CARB’s plan for reducing emissions by 2030 … we have two primary findings: (1) the plan lacks a clear strategy for meeting the 2030 GHG goals and (2) the Cap‑and‑Trade program is not currently positioned to close a 2030 emissions gap.”

Their analysis points out that without a suite of identified policy actions, it is unclear whether the reduction targets can be reached or the timetable met. One reason for that is because other state agencies and the State Legislature will need time to develop the required policies and action plans to implement a strategy, which increases the likelihood of missing the deadline or coming up short on the goal.  The need for quick action could also result in higher-than-anticipated costs for both state agencies and private businesses, which in turn is inconsistent with the Scoping Plan’s statutory mandate to create a technologically feasible and cost-effective strategy.

The LAO therefore urged the State Legislature to “…direct CARB to submit a report to the Legislature by July 31, 2023 that clarifies its plan for reducing GHG emissions to meet the 2030 statutory goal.”

The LAO is a government agency that has provided non-partisan fiscal and policy advice to the California Legislature for 75 years. They offer programmatic and fiscal expertise on various topic, most notably the state budget, to ensure that the Executive Branch is implementing legislative policy in an effective and cost efficient manner.  This report, “Assessing California’s Climate Policies – The 2022 Scoping Plan Update,” was developed in accordance with AB 398 (E. Garcia), which requires the LAO to report annually on the economic impacts and benefits of the state’s 2020 and 2030 GHG goals.