CARB releases ambitious draft climate action plan to slash use of fossil fuels and reach carbon neutrality by 2045
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today released a draft plan that, when final, will guide the state’s transition to a clean energy economy, drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels, achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner, and significantly clean the state’s air especially in disadvantaged communities disproportionately burdened by persistent pollution.
The draft 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan is the third update to the state’s initial 2008 Scoping Plan. It identifies a technologically feasible, cost-effective and equity-focused path to achieve carbon neutrality over the next two decades while also assessing the progress the State is making towards reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Release of the draft plan triggers a formal 45-day public comment period. During the 45-day public comment period, the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee may provide additional input on the draft plan. The Board will consider the plan in June and may then provide direction to staff, with an additional period of public comment and engagement prior to the second meeting of the Board in the fall to consider adopting a final draft of the plan.
“The draft Scoping Plan sets out an ambitious vision that advances equity and addresses the existential crisis of our generation with guidance for the concrete steps and actions needed to actually make it work,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “When final, it will serve as the actionable plan for a more sustainable California for our children and a model for other industrialized economies around the world as they consider how to make their transition to a clean energy economy that provides health benefits and economic opportunity.”
California is the fifth largest economy on the planet and the draft plan covers every sector. The most significant aspect of the draft plan is the aggressive pace and scale it calls for to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels wherever they are currently used in California. It achieves this goal by building on and accelerating successful approaches to carbon reduction including regulations, incentives, and carbon pricing that have been in place for a decade and a half. At the center of this shift away from fossil fuels is an accelerated transition to zero-emission transportation, phasing out the use of fossil gas used to heat homes and buildings, and providing communities with sustainable options for walking, biking, and public transit so that people do not have to rely on cars. Action in the transportation sector will be buttressed by an acceleration of adding more clean, affordable, and reliable renewable energy to displace fossil-fuel fired electricity generation and scaling up new options such as hydrogen and renewable gas for hard-to-electrify end uses.
This accelerated shift away from petroleum will make California more energy secure, less impacted by volatile global oil price fluctuations, and will deliver significant health benefits to all Californians, especially those in low-income communities of color that are most impacted by air pollution from truck and car traffic and freight delivery.
Achieving California’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner will also require re-envisioning our forests, farmlands and rangelands to ensure that they play as robust a role as possible in reducing emissions and incorporating and storing more carbon. This focus will establish healthier forests that are more resistant to wildfires, and increased health benefits from reduced exposure to wildfire smoke. The plan also makes clear that in order to succeed in balancing remaining carbon output with carbon storage, California will need to go beyond the capacity of our natural and working lands and deploy additional methods of capturing carbon dioxide that include pulling it from industrial smokestacks or drawing it out of the atmosphere itself and then safely and permanently storing it.
These efforts place a priority on ensuring that all these efforts provide benefits to frontline communities most heavily burdened by persistent pollution and who will disproportionately bear the impacts of a warming planet.
The draft 2022 Climate Change Scoping Plan was developed by the California Air Resources Board in an unprecedented process of collaboration and coordination with multiple state agencies. That broad-based coordination lays the foundation for a whole of government approach to future implementation. Development of the plan also included robust public engagement including over a dozen workshops, webinars or public meetings over the past year.
In addition, the draft plan was shaped by recommendations from the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee to ensure that environmental justice and frontline communities are front and center in the state’s efforts to address the climate emergency. The EJAC held 18 meetings and there are some five dozen recommendations of the committee referenced throughout the draft plan. Ongoing collaboration with the EJAC will be essential to ensure that the final plan is as robust as possible.
The draft Scoping Plan evaluated four potential scenarios for achieving carbon neutrality, all of which will also achieve the 2030 goal of reducing GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels. Two of those scenarios would achieve carbon neutrality by 2035; the other two by 2045. Through extensive modeling to determine future policy impacts on health and the economy CARB staff concluded that Scenario 3 provided the most economically and technologically feasible route to carbon neutrality, including providing equity-based solutions focused on affordability and job preservation. Scenario 3 aligns with all applicable statues and Executive Orders while deploying a broad portfolio of existing and emerging fossil fuel alternatives and clean technologies. It also provides a feasible timeline to develop the infrastructure and technology needed, especially the rapid build-out of renewable energy, and a lower overall cost of implementation with minimal impact on the economy. It will achieve an approximately 90% reduction in petroleum usage by 2045, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, another state target.
The draft Scoping Plan also reviews California’s existing climate programs, such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Cap-and-Trade and the Renewables Portfolio Standard, among others. The draft Plan explains how these programs have been changed since the last Scoping Plan in 2017 and outlines other programs and actions needed to achieve a low-carbon economy.