Earth Day 2017: California committed to continuing to fight climate change, protect public health and the environment
SACRAMENTO - The 47th annual Earth Day finds California on the frontline of efforts to clean the air and curb the effects of climate change, even as federal regulators retreat from their own responsibilities. For 50 years, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has worked to break new ground in protecting public health and the environment.
Under Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., California has established the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets in North America, and the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants. The Governor also signed legislation that directs cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs that benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems. As part of these efforts, he has directed CARB to push into new areas of environmental improvement.
CARB’s recent actions include:
Moving Forward with Advanced Clean Cars
Last month, CARB voted to continue with the vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and zero-emission vehicle program for cars and light trucks sold in California through 2025. The action ensures that California and 12 other states that follow its vehicle regulations, together accounting for a third of the U.S. auto market, will move forward on standards that will deliver cleaner and more fuel-efficient cars, saving consumers money and cutting greenhouse gases.
Expanding Market for Zero-Emission Vehicles
The Board also voted to support the expansion of the zero-emission vehicle marketplace before 2025, paving the way for new regulations to rapidly increase the number of zero-emission vehicles to be sold in California after 2025. Governor Brown has called for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025. There are currently 280,000 zero-emission vehicles in California, more than half the national total, even though California is only 10 percent of the nation’s population.
Fighting Climate Super Pollutants
ARB also adopted a new plan to curb destructive super pollutants, including methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons. These emissions accelerate the impact of global warming far beyond the effect of CO2, the main greenhouse gas. 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.
Nation’s Toughest Rule for Curbing Methane Leaks
Last month, CARB approved a new regulation aimed at curbing emissions of methane that regularly escapes from oil and gas operations, the most comprehensive rule of its kind in the country. The new regulation is expected to reduce methane leaks in California by the equivalent of 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year.
Developing California’s Climate Action Plan 2030
CARB is working with the public, stakeholders and other state agencies to develop a Scoping Plan that sets the course for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the most ambitious goal in North America. The plan builds on the state’s successful efforts to reduce emissions and outlines the most effective ways to reach the 2030 goal, including continuing California’s cap-and-trade Program. CARB will consider the plan at the end of June.
Investing Cap-and-Trade Proceeds in Disadvantaged Communities
Investments from California’s cap-and-trade program are reducing greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening local economies and improving public health and the environment. To date, $3.4 billion has been appropriated by the Legislature, and $1.2 billion has been distributed to projects that are completed or under way. Projects range from installing solar panels on low-income homes, to building affordable housing close to transportation corridors. Investments are spread over 57 of California’s 58 counties, and fifty percent of the $1.2 billion in implemented projects ($614 million) is providing benefits to disadvantaged communities.
Transforming California’s Freight System
In July, state agency leaders released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.