Air Resources Board releases bold vision to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO - The Air Resources Board today released a concept paper describing ways in which California can move forward aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas and smog-causing emissions from a group of chemicals with extremely high global warming potential. These chemicals may be responsible for as much as 40 percent of the global warming to date.
Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) include methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases (refrigerants, insulating foam and aerosol propellants). These gases trap heat at many times the level of carbon dioxide, but also tend to have a shorter duration in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, making their most dramatic climate impact over a period of days to about 10 years.
“Reducing the emissions of these short-lived climate gases is an important part of California’s – and the world’s – efforts to keep the planet from exceeding the most dangerous levels of warming,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “Taking steps to significantly reduce these greenhouse gases now will deliver climate and air quality benefits in the short-term while we move our energy systems and vehicle fleets to clean technologies.”
Strong planning and decisive actions on these climate pollutants will deliver reductions over the short-term and will play an important role in achieving the Governor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030. The concept paper identifies scientific targets that align with levels of reductions needed worldwide to stabilize the climate, including reducing methane emissions by at least 40 percent.
Senate Bill 605 (Lara) requires ARB to develop, in coordination with other state agencies and local air districts, a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants. Today’s release of the concept paper marks the first step in developing that strategy. A public workshop will be held on May 27 to discuss the concept paper and overall strategy development.
Working on a fast-track, ARB will develop an initial draft strategy through public workshops over the summer. The draft proposed strategy will be presented to the Board in the fall and will include specific actions over a broad array of economic sectors, including the natural environment and biological systems.
Action to reduce emissions of these gases can also improve air quality and reduce related health risks, hospitalizations and medical expenses, especially in disadvantaged communities. Other benefits to California include reducing damage to forests and crops, reducing background ozone and particulate levels to help meet federal air quality standards, and reducing disruption of historic rainfall patterns.
For black carbon, produced in California primarily from diesel combustion and burning wood (including wildfires), the concept paper suggests building on, accelerating and expanding existing programs including the ongoing sustainable freight strategy and forest management.
Development of a regulation by ARB is already underway to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and storage sites. The concept paper addresses the need to act on other sources, including reducing methane emissions from dairies and eliminating the disposal of organic materials at landfills. The concept paper suggests an approach to consider new funding mechanisms and a range of incentive structures to address all sources.
“Reducing methane and other short-lived climate pollutants is an increasingly essential part of achieving California’s goals of reducing the impacts of climate change; protecting our land, air, water and communities; and enabling California’s farming sector to thrive,” said Sustainable Conservation Executive Director Ashley Boren. “Sustainable Conservation looks forward to working with state agencies, our agricultural partners and other stakeholders in developing effective strategies and incentives that work for farmers, agricultural communities and the environment – and putting the state on the path to meeting its climate change and air quality goals.”
As for so-called fluorinated gases, the paper looks to an 80 percent reduction by 2030 in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in new refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, and taking early actions to significantly reduce these gases from commercial refrigeration. There is already an ARB program in place to address leaks from commercial systems.
Development of this plan will align with efforts being made by Mexico, one of the State’s international partners in efforts to curb the impacts of climate change and fight air pollution. Mexico is the only country to specifically include SLCP emissions in its reduction pledge for the upcoming Paris climate summit. Under an agreement signed last year, California and Mexico are working together on a host of climate and air quality issues, including short-lived climate pollutants. Last December, California and Mexico co-hosted an event on short-lived climate pollutants at the international climate meetings in Lima, Peru.
California already has some of the most stringent and effective regulations in the country for methane and black carbon. Our efforts to control emissions from diesel vehicles have reduced black carbon 90 percent since the 1960s, while diesel consumption has since tripled. These reductions help avoid about 5,000 premature deaths each year in the state, and if similar black carbon reduction levels were achieved globally, studies show it would avoid millions of premature deaths annually and slow the rate of global warming by about 15 percent.
The Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Concept Paper can be found at: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/short-lived-climate-pollutants