Carbon Sequestration: Carbon Capture, Removal, Utilization, and Storage
Carbon removal and sequestration will be an essential tool to achieve carbon neutrality. The 2022 Scoping Plan Update along with the Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, a report by the IPCC released in early 2022, show there is no path to carbon neutrality without carbon removal and sequestration. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and sequestration can take different forms. Carbon dioxide removal refers to both mechanical and nature-based removal of carbon from the ambient air. Nature based carbon removal can take the form of carbon sequestration in growing trees or other landscapes. Mechanical carbon removal refers to direct air capture (DAC) with sequestration or bioenergy paired with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS). Separately, Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to carbon capture and sequestration from a facility. CCS projects are often paired with large greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting facilities such as energy, manufacturing, or fuel production facilities. There are numerous other carbon removal options undergoing research, development, and pilot deployment. The deployment of CDR and CCS will be critical to remove historical and ongoing emissions of carbon into the atmosphere and address sectors where emissions are unavoidable with no cost-effective or technologically feasible alternatives.
In recognition of the science and need to drastically reduce GHGs and achieve carbon neutrality no later than mid-century to stabilize the climate, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1279 (AB 1279) (Muratsuchi, Chapter 337, Statutes of 2022), paired with Senate Bill 905 (SB 905) (Caballero, Chapter 359, Statutes of 2022). AB 1279 establishes the policy of the state to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, but no later than 2045; to maintain net negative GHG emissions thereafter; and to ensure that by 2045 statewide anthropogenic GHG emissions are reduced at least 85 percent below 1990 levels. The bill requires CARB to ensure that Scoping Plan updates identify and recommend measures to achieve carbon neutrality, and to identify and implement policies and strategies that enable CO2 removal solutions and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies. SB 905 requires CARB to create the Carbon Capture, Removal, Utilization, and Storage Program to evaluate, demonstrate, and regulate CCUS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) projects and technology. While CARB has already approved a CCS Protocol for use in the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, it will need to be updated to reflect any requirements established in the new SB 905 program at CARB. SB 905 also requires the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to develop recommendations for CO2 pipeline safety and a framework for pore space ownership.
The Legislature also passed Assembly Bill 1757 (AB 1757) (Garcia, Chapter 341, Statutes of 2022). AB 1757 requires CNRA, in collaboration with CARB, other state agencies, and an expert advisory committee, to determine a range of targets for natural carbon sequestration, and for nature-based climate solutions, that reduce GHG emissions in 2030, 2038, and 2045 by January 1, 2024. These targets must support state goals to achieve carbon neutrality and foster climate adaptation and resilience.
In late 2022, Governor Newsom signed these bills into law, along with many others to help achieve the state’s climate goals.