Five in Five: How to Achieve AB 32’s Goals and Build a Healthier, More Prosperous California

The 5-year update to the 2008 AB 32 Scoping Plan is being met with great anticipation, since it will continue California's trajectory down a path toward a healthier environment and economy.

The Scoping Plan update from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will certainly lay out a vision for the years ahead, with its north star being a goal of reaching 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2020.

The emission reduction opportunities in the Scoping Plan update are a blueprint and encompass improvements and coordinated efforts across all sectors of the California economy.

To maximize reductions, here are five concrete areas to consider, from the nine topics in which EDF submitted recommendations.

Ultimately, the Scoping Plan update should:

  • Make it clear that the low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and cap and trade will extend beyond 2020.  Consumers need some certainty regarding California’s policy future upon which to base investment decisions. Clear incentives and a long-term regulatory structure will enable CARB to achieve the reductions it needs to meet 2020 and 2050 goals.  It is imperative that CARB create an expectation that both the LCFS and cap and trade will remain in effect post-2020 in order to implement long-term change.  This will mean that consumers are more likely to make choices with long-term impacts, like buying a more fuel efficient car or even an electric car.
  • Establish a plan for meeting the state-wide goal of a 75% recycling rate. Recycling 75% of the state’s waste will help to generate valuable greenhouse gas emissions and go a long way towards meeting the state’s goals.   Further composting can be encouraged by finding valuable uses for compost and creating markets that allow composters to sell their products. For example, EDF has conducted research on the benefits of applying compost to rangelands which can facilitate further GHG reductions. Other areas to consider include developing offsets for compostable materials and streamlining the permitting process for new composting and anaerobic facilities.
  • Implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions from freight transportation.  As the demand for goods and services increases, emissions are expected to rise in freight transportation by 74 percent.  Measures such as investing in lower carbon modes of transportation are critical but there are also innovative approaches that might not be as obvious.  For example, by working together, companies like Hershey's and Ferrero have saved impressive amounts of GHGs and money by combining shipments so that they maximize cargo capacity for every trip.  EDF has profiled companies that are already seeing the benefit of these  and other similarly innovative approaches and believes that California can see large-scale change if they’re implemented state-wide.
  • Use On-Bill Repayment (OBR) to lower financing and transactional cost of clean energy projects.  OBR solves the problem many consumers have of the high up-front cost of clean energy projects.  It allows participants to borrow from private investors and pay the loan back directly through their utility bill, often lowering the overall amount of the bill despite the loan because of decreased energy demand. OBR accelerates clean energy investments and emission reductions without direct costs to taxpayers or ratepayers.  EDF estimates that OBR will avoid 200 million metric tons of CO2e over ten years (which translates to taking approximately 50,000 cars off the road), and OBR has the potential to create many jobs in the state as it spurs demand for clean energy projects.
  • Develop a comprehensive methane reduction plan.  As a short-term pollutant that has a high global warming potential, even small amounts of methane can have a tremendous negative impact.  This source of emissions is often overlooked because methane emissions can often occur indirectly as methane leaks from wells, pipelines, storage areas, or natural gas vehicles.  CARB can take charge of this challenge by creating an inventory of methane emissions that provides a comprehensive understanding of the scope and location of methane emissions sources, by implementing measures to reduce methane leakage, and by requiring energy efficient solutions to reduce the amount of natural gas used.

Integrating these five opportunities into the Scoping Plan update can, and will, go a long way towards mitigating the effects of climate change and creating a healthier environment and thriving economy for Californians that is built to last.

 

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