CARB draft of updated AB 32 Scoping Plan for climate change actions post-2020; pushing for greater transportation reductions
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the public discussion draft of the required update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan. (Earlier post.) The Scoping Plan describes the comprehensive range of efforts California must take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and meet the state’s long-term goals to combat climate change.
AB 32 requires the Scoping Plan to be updated every five years. The original Plan, first released in 2008, was developed on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions and grow California’s economy in a clean and sustainable direction. This draft update continues with that approach and focuses on three questions:
- How has California done over the past five years?
- What is needed to continue the prescribed course of action to 2020?
- What steps must California now take to meet the state’s climate goals beyond 2020?
California’s strategy to meet the goals of AB 32 is based on the continued implementation of adopted actions including Advanced Clean Cars (earlier post); the 33% Renewables Portfolio Standard; statewide energy-efficiency initiatives; Cap-and-Trade; the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS); and other programs.
The discussion draft finds that California is on track to meet the AB 32 2020 goal of greenhouse gas reductions supported by its panoply of regulatory actions. An overview of the current science of climate change in the draft includes an expanded discussion of short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and black carbon.
Recommended transportation actions beyond 2020. The original scoping plan grouped GHG emission sources by major economic sectors, the better to define, to organize, and to determine control strategies for each. However, ARB notes in the draft, the original sectors were too specific to translate into a broader post-2020 evaluation, especially since “certain economic sectors have overlapping and influential elements that should be evaluated and addressed more holistically.”
As a result, ARB identified six key focus areas comprising major components of the state’s economy to evaluate and to describe the larger transformative actions within California’s broad economy that will be required to meet the State’s more expansive emission reductions goal for 2050. The focus areas include:
- Transportation, Land Use, Fuels, and Infrastructure.
- Waste Management.
- Natural and Working Lands.
These focus areas have overlapping and competing interests that will require careful coordination in the State’s future policies and strategies. The topic areas were chosen based on their ability to address concerns that underlie all sectors of the economy. As such, each of the focus areas are not contained to a single economic sector, but have far-reaching impacts within many sectors. For example, much of the transportation sector is expected to be electrified in the future. This creates demand for more electrical generation. Add to this a growing population and an expectation that more and more industrial and commercial facilities will electrify in lieu of using fossil fuels, and the result is a heavy burden on the electricity sector.—Discussion Draft
In 2012, Governor Brown reaffirmed California’s commitment to reduce transportation emissions in Executive Order B-16-2012, in which he set targets of 1.5 million ZEVs on California roads by 2025 and a reduction in sector-wide emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. (Earlier post.)
Various 2050 scenario studies for California have determined that achieving the 2050 target will require significantly improved vehicle energy efficiency; widespread electrification of on-road vehicles; development of low carbon liquid fuels for applications that cannot be easily electrified; and smarter, more integrated land use planning and development.
Specifically, for California communities and passenger transportation, this effort entails developing communities with a range of mobility options, including easy and equitable access to public transit, active transportation (biking and walking), and other alternative modes of transportation. It requires improved public transit and rail service, powered by zero or near-zero technologies, and improved connectivity among vehicle modes. Vehicle efficiency will continue to improve, and markets for ZEVs will take off, so that when people do choose to travel by car, they will still travel with zero emissions.
For freight transportation, achieving the State’s emissions targets means moving goods more efficiently and with zero or near-zero emissions, optimizing movement of freight between modes, and accelerating speed of throughput and expanding system capacity. It requires significant improvements in vehicle efficiencies, and a continual reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels used in trucks and rail, including hydrogen and electricity. Successfully reducing emissions in the freight sector can, and must, support the competitiveness of California’s logistics, warehousing, trucking, and shipping industries, while effectively integrating with the national and international freight transportation system.
These changes in passenger and freight transportation can only be enabled with a similar transition to a decarbonized energy sector.—Discussion Draft
ARB suggests that “natural extensions” to the policy framework already in place, coupled with targeted investment and strategic market support, will keep the transportation sector on track to meet ongoing emission reduction targets. Among the consideration are:
The Advanced Clean Cars regulation will reduce GHG emissions from new light-duty vehicles by about 4.5% per year from 2017–2025. Continuing progress at about 5% per year would reduce new vehicle emissions to about 125 grams of carbon dioxide per mile (gCO2/mi) and to below 100 g CO2/mi by 2035.
For Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles, U.S. EPA’s “Phase I” GHG standard will reduce new vehicle emissions by about 4–5% per year from 2014–2018. This level of reduction can also continue beyond the current rulemaking, and an additional 5% annual improvement through 2025 or 2030 is feasible and cost-effective, ARB asserts, by using commercially available technologies and advanced transmissions, hybridization, improved trailer aerodynamics, and other technologies. Significant, ongoing vehicle efficiencies can be achieved in Class 3–Class 7 trucks as well, and will be partly enabled by improvements in light-duty vehicles.
The Low Carbon Fuel Standard will reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by at least 10% in 2020, and fuels will come under California’s Cap-and-Trade program in 2015. Continuing these policies to ensure that carbon intensity continues to decline will help to ensure that California meets its ongoing emission reduction targets, ARB said.
Continued progress to develop and scale markets for low carbon biofuels is an important component of California’s fuel and transportation policies, especially outside of the light-duty sector. California’s fuel policies and supporting investment—especially through the AB 118 program—are critical drivers supporting these growing industries, ARB said.
Natural gas has an important niche role to play in contributing to California’s air quality and GHG emissions goals in the transportation sector. Heavy-duty natural gas vehicles may offer significantly lower NOx emissions than current diesel technology, and slight improvements in GHG emissions. Increasing penetration of natural gas in the heavy- duty truck sector could help to meet mid-term air quality targets, but natural gas use will have to be mostly phased out to meet 2050 climate targets. In addition, liquefied natural gas could be an important fuel in the shipping sector, which cannot be easily electrified. It would provide important air quality benefits on a global scale and help to avoid increasing black carbon deposits in the Arctic.
Coordinated planning is needed to achieve deep emission reductions in the transportation sector, and should include the development of the 2015 State Implementation Plans, the California Freight Mobility Plan, the 2040 California Transportation Plan, the ARB-led Sustainable Freight Strategy, and regional sustainable community strategy development and implementation.
California should continue to support the ZEV (zero emission vehicle) market not only through regulation, including the ZEV program, but also through continued support for vehicle incentives, infrastructure investments to support electric charging stations, and additional policies and planning efforts to ensure that value is returned to consumers and that ZEVs integrate effectively into the electricity grid, communities, and daily lives.
California should further support commercial markets of ZEVs through policies such as reduced peak demand charges for electricity, through plug-in vehicle charging rates that strongly encourage off-peak charging both at home and at public chargers, and by streamlining local permitting, siting, and utility interconnection for charging infrastructure, ARB argues.
California should continue to support and monitor the market and consider extending the ZEV program if warranted—for example, by 1 percentage point per year after 2025. Actions to support ZEVs should not be limited to light-duty vehicles; state and local agencies should evaluate options for full deployment of zero emission trucks, including the potential for transporting containers between the ports and near-dock rail yards in the South Coast Air Basin by 2020.
Additional, targeted financial and policy support and investment—including continued ZEV purchase incentives for electric and fuel cell vehicles—is needed to help during the transition, and to help local communities to plan and to build the active transportation and public transit alternatives (including integrated public transit and high-speed rail) that necessary to meet ongoing emissions targets. California has existing funding programs for many of these activities, but funding is limited, and will need to be enhanced or extended beyond currently allocated resources.
For example, existing State rebates for light-duty zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles is consistently oversubscribed, yet continued public commitment is necessary at this time to support full-scale commercialization and consumer acceptance of these vehicles. The State will need to provide funding for advanced technology freight demonstration projects and pilot deployments of vehicles and equipment. Focus areas for these projects include, but are not limited to: zero emission port trucks for near-dock rail pilot projects; pilot projects to deploy zero emission and hybrid vehicles and equipment at distribution centers located in areas most affected by air pollution; and development and demonstration of advanced technology locomotive, marine vessels, port-yard trucks, and other cargo handling equipment. The State will support development of large-scale renewable and low carbon fuel production facilities, and provide funding for research to evaluate the reactivity and leak rates from compressed natural gas/liquefied natural gas (CNG/LNG) storage and vehicles, and to determine if natural gas infrastructure can be utilized for future hydrogen distribution.—Discussion Draft
Next steps. The draft update is the result of a series of discussions and input over the past year by a broad range of state agencies and departments and the state Climate Action Team. In addition, four public workshops were held over the summer in Los Angeles, Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco in an effort to consider comments prior to developing the draft.
The release of the discussion draft update marks the beginning of a public comment period to help inform the Proposed Update to the Scoping Plan.
Future steps in the development of the Proposed Update include a public workshop on 15 October in Sacramento (which will also be webcast), and a meeting of the Board at the end of October to hear from all stakeholders and provide further direction to staff on revisions to the discussion draft presentation to the ARB at its Board meeting at the end of October. Following the October Board meeting, the draft will be revised and then presented to the Board at its December meeting. The Board is anticipated to consider approval of the update in Spring of 2014.