California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) recently approved by a unanimous vote the final Climate Change Scoping Plan to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This action makes California the first state to formally approve a comprehensive GHG reduction plan involving every sector of the economy.
Development of the Scoping Plan is a vital component of California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) that requires the California government to take steps to reduce GHG emissions. CARB first released its Climate Change Draft Scoping Plan in June 2008, then the Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan in October 2008, and invited further analysis and public input. For further information regarding the Draft Scoping Plan, please see McDermott On the Subject “Greenhouse Gas Control Update: California and Georgia.” Both the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission submitted recommendations specifically targeted for the electricity and natural gas sectors to CARB in October 2008 as required by AB 32. The final Scoping Plan was adopted with few changes from the draft plan CARB released in October.
While the Scoping Plan contains a broad mix of strategies to cut GHG emissions, the Scoping Plan’s central mechanism is a GHG cap-and-trade program covering 85 percent of the state’s emissions. California’s program will be developed and implemented collaboratively with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) to create a multi-sector regional cap-and-trade program that encompasses the seven states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington) and four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec) that are WCI members. Other key strategies include expanding energy efficiency programs, such as building and appliance standards or solar water heating programs, implementation of California’s clean car standards, increasing the amount of renewable energy required to be consumed in the state and implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard.
CARB plans to begin developing detailed strategies and regulations immediately to implement the recommendations contained in the Scoping Plan by 2012.