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California’s 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update: The Proposed Scenario

Earlier this year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update (Scoping Plan), which is a draft version of the Scoping Plan. CARB is the state agency charged with monitoring and regulating sources of emissions of greenhouse gases. The Scoping Plan complies with CARB’s mandates under Senate Bill 32 and Assembly Bill 197, and sets forth the proposed strategy for achieving the state’s 2030 greenhouse gas target: a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The Scoping Plan “marks the second chapter to California’s groundbreaking efforts to fight climate change.” Scoping Plan, Executive Summary, at 1. The first scoping plan (2008 Scoping Plan) was required by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and Assembly Bill 32, adopted in 2008. In the 2008 Scoping Plan, CARB set in place a range of effective programs to reduce greenhouse gases in order to reach 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020. The state’s ultimate goal is a 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The major elements of the Proposed Scenario are to achieve 50 percent Renewables Portfolio Standard and doubling of energy efficiency savings by 2030 under Senate Bill 350; increased stringency of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS); put 4.2 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the roads under the Mobile Source Strategy; deploy over 100,000 zero-emission trucks and equipment by 2030; implement the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy; implement declining caps on greenhouse gas emissions under the cap-and-trade program and continue linkage with Québec, and linkage to Ontario, Canada; reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the refinery sector by 20 percent; and develop Integrated Natural and Working Lands Action Plan to secure California’s land base as a net carbon sink by 2018.

Under President Trump’s administration, it appears increasingly unlikely that the federal government will take action on climate change issues, such as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, California and other states will continue to implement climate change regulations on the state level, and state programs will become even more critical than in the previous presidential administration. “By combating climate change at the level outlined in this [Scoping P]lan, California joins the global effort to address the one overarching issue of our time that ties together all the strands of our energy and environmental policies—the escalating crisis of global climate change.” Scoping Plan, Executive Summary, at 2.

CARB was accepting public comments on the Scoping Plan until March 6, 2017. CARB will then prepare written responses to the public comments, and integrate the comments into the final Scoping Plan.

(Shannon Morrissey)