California Proposes Strict Greenhouse Gases, Fuel Economy Rules for 2030

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The California Air Resources Board today released a proposed plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases  by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America. The transportation sector tailpipe emissions account for about 38% of emissions, and is the primary source of smog forming and toxic air pollution in the Golden State.

The plan builds on the state’s successful efforts to reduce emissions. It is said to outline the most effective ways to reach the 2030 goal. This includes the continuing California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, which because of market fluctuations caused by the uncertainty about future regulations made it chaotic and subject to swings.

AutoInformed.com on Global Warming and CO2Twit-nitwit Trump – “global warming is a Chinese hoax” – is an additional exacerbating factor here with his EPA head nominee, Scott Pruitt saying it’s real – a lie about Global Warming to get through his confirmation hearing, or is he serious?  (See CARB Issues Mid-Term CAFE, Green House Gas Review and CAFE, Global Warming Rules Approved for 2022-25)

Moreover, CARB said that the 2030 target under the proposed plan will continue to build on investments in clean energy and “set the California economy on a trajectory to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This appears to be in harmony with the scientific consensus of the scale of emission reductions needed to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent, and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, no matter what Twit-nit Trump says that it is a Chinese hoax.

“Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “The plan will help us meet both our climate and our clean air goals in the coming decades and provide billions of dollars in investments to cut greenhouse gases, smog and toxic pollution in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. It is also designed to continue to drive creative innovation, generating good new jobs in the growing clean technology sector.”

California has been reducing emissions through a series of actions and advances in technology for decades – supported by court decisions that it has the right to do so in cases brought by automakers. (Grim irony here: Republicans are all for states’ rights in certain issues, but not for cleaner air when a state wants to do that.) These include cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars and zero emission vehicles, low-carbon fuels, renewable energy, waste diversion from landfills, water conservation, improvements to energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and a Cap-and-Trade Program.

CARB says the “result is improved public health, a growing economy with more green jobs, and better clean energy choices for Californians.”

Assembly Bill 32, signed in 2006, set California’s initial goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and directed CARB to develop a climate change scoping plan – to be updated every five years. The scoping plan requires specific measures needed to reach the target. Today’s proposed plan, required by the California’s Governor’s April 2015 Executive Order, updates the previous scoping plan to account for the new 2030 target codified in Senate Bill 32.

Cap-and-Trade

The proposed plan continues the Cap-and-Trade Program through 2030 and includes a new approach to reduce greenhouse gases from refineries by 20%. It incorporates approaches to cutting super pollutants from the so-called Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Strategy. It reinforces the need of reducing emissions in agriculture and highlights the work underway to ensure that California’s natural and working lands increasingly sequester carbon. Agriculture, of course, is a major sector of the Golden State’s economy.

Actually achieving the 2030 goal will require contributions from all sectors of the economy and – to the auto industry it will include amplified focus on zero- and near-zero emission vehicle technologies. Other key areas are continued investment in renewable energy, including solar and wind; greater use of low-carbon fuels; integrated land conservation and development strategies; coordinated efforts to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, which include methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases; and an increased effort on integrated land-use planning to support livable, transit-connected communities.

The proposed plan, which follows the release of a discussion draft in December, analyzes the potential economic impacts of different policy scenarios, including a carbon tax, and calculates the benefit to society of taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan also includes the estimated range of greenhouse gas, criteria pollutant and toxic pollutant emissions reductions of each measure.

The plan finds that Cap-and-Trade is the lowest cost, most efficient policy approach and provides “certainty” that the state will meet the 2030 goals even if other measures fall short. The Cap-and-Trade Program funds the California Climate Investments program, which provides funds for community, local, regional and statewide projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – with at least 35% of proceeds invested in disadvantaged and low-income communities. To date, a total of $3.4 billion in cap-and-trade funds have been appropriated for the California Climate Investments program.

Public Hearings

The first of three public hearings on the proposed plan will be held at the regularly scheduled Board meeting on January 27. The California Air Resources Board is slated to hold workshops in February and hear an update at the February 16 Board meeting.

The Final 2017 Scoping Plan Update will be released in late March and be considered for approval by the Board in late April.

The full text of “The 2017 Scoping Plan Update: The Proposed Plan for Achieving California’s 2030 Greenhouse Gas Target” is available at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/scopingplan.htm

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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