CARB approves broad plan for reducing climate “super pollutants”
RIVERSIDE - The California Air Resources Board today adopted a new plan to curb destructive super pollutants including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. The plan, California’s Short-lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, maps out the route to more rapid greenhouse gas reductions by clamping down on these super pollutants.
Super pollutants have more potent heat-trapping effects but remain in the atmosphere for a shorter time than carbon dioxide. Reducing these pollutants can have a more immediate beneficial impact on climate change – and reduces harmful toxins, such as cancer-causing particulates, in California communities.
Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) make up about 12 percent of GHG emissions, but strong actions to reduce them could help reduce global warming by as much as 40 percent.
This plan to curb super pollutants will accelerate reaching our 2030 goal of a 40 percent reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This plan will also help reduce nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, and fine particle pollution.”
The SLCP Strategy is a critical part of California’s emission-reduction framework being developed in the draft Proposed 2030 Scoping Plan. The framework also includes the Cap-and-Trade Program, the Mobile Source Strategy, the Advanced Clean Car Program, the Renewables Portfolio Standard and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
A key piece of the SLCP Strategy is a new regulation aimed at reducing methane leaks from oil and gas operations. It requires emissions-capture technology and stricter monitoring and reporting of potential methane leaks as a means of isolating and fixing them more quickly. That rule, which the Board will take up later today, will be fully in effect by 2020.
The SLCP Strategy also reduces hydrofluorocarbons, traditionally used in refrigeration, air conditioning, insulation and propellants. Substitutes for HFCs are growing in use and continue to be developed. CARB’s efforts are expected to result in HFC reductions of 25 percent below business-as-usual emissions by 2020. CARB is currently preparing a detailed analysis of future HFC emissions which will undergo a third-party review.
Last fall, Governor Brown Signed SB 1383 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), an ex-officio CARB board member. SB 1383 sets targets for reductions in methane emissions of 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, a 40 percent reduction in HFCs and a 50 percent reduction in black carbon. SB 1383 also provides general guidance for regulation of short-lived climate pollutants and requires the Board to complete and approve a plan by January 1, 2018.
CARB began publicly evaluating controls for SLCPs with the first AB 32 Scoping Plan in 2008 and has held at least 10 workshops and public hearings to gather input. Since then Governor Brown signed SB 32, codifying a reduction target for statewide GHG emissions of 40 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2030. SLCP emission reductions will support achieving this target.
The major sources of methane are livestock, particularly dairy cattle; landfills; and the oil and gas industry. Livestock is responsible for 55 percent of methane emissions. The SLCP Strategy calls for capturing methane from manure at large dairies, pursuing opportunities to reduce methane emissions from enteric fermentation, significantly reducing disposal of organics in landfills, and reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations.
California has already reduced black carbon emissions 90 percent since the 1970s, largely through the state’s stringent diesel regulations. The SLCP Strategy will rely on a variety of tools, including putting zero-emission vehicles on the road and into ports and rail yards, more mass transit, cleaning up woodstoves, and cleaner fuels.