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California ARB approves 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan; requires doubling the rate of GHG cuts

The California Air Resources Board unanimously approved the 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan, which sets the state on an aggressive course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an additional 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 under SB 32. This will require California to double the rate at which it has been cutting GHGs. (Earlier post.)

Eleven years ago, the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) set the goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Executive Order B-30-15 and SB 32 extended the goals of AB 32 and set a 2030 goal of reducing emissions 40% from 2020 levels. The Plan establishes a path that intended to get California to its 2030 target. As the largest sectoral contributor to GHG emissions (39% in 2015), transportion is a major focus of the plan.

At a high level, to achieve transportation sustainability the state will look to:

  • The completion of a high-speed rail system;

  • Zoning and policy changes to curtail vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and to promote walking, biking and transit;

  • Building on existing regulatory and incentive-based policies to quickly make clean cars, trucks, buses, and fuels the definitive winners in the market; market winners;

  • Coordinate agency activities to ensure that emerging automated and connected vehicle technologies reduce emissions; and

  • Improve freight and goods movement efficiency and sustainability.

Through effective policy design, the State has an opportunity to guide technology transformation and influence investment decisions with a view to mitigate climate and environmental impacts while promoting economic opportunities and community health and safety. The network of transportation technology and infrastructure, in turn, shapes and is shaped by development and land use patterns that can either support or detract from a more sustainable, low carbon, multi-modal transportation future. Strategies to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector, therefore, must actively address not only infrastructure and technology, but also coordinated strategies to achieve development, conservation, and land use patterns that align with the State’s GHG and other policy goals.

… CARB is signaling the need for additional policy and technical support on strategies to move toward a goal of achieving 100% ZEV sales in the light-duty vehicle sector. In addition, policies that maximize the integration of electrified rail and transit to improve reliability and travel times, increase active transportation such as walking and bicycling, encourage use of streets for multiple modes of transportation, improve freight efficiency and infrastructure development, and shift demand to low carbon modes will need to play a greater role as California strives to achieve its 2030 and 2050 climate targets.

—2017 Scoping Plan

Among the many elements outlined in the plan are:

  • A 15% reduction in total light-duty VMT from the business-as-usual scenario (BAO) in 2050, using a variety of policy mechanisms.

  • Expand the Advanced Clean Cars program, which further increases the stringency of GHG emissions for all light-duty vehicles, and requires 4.2 million zero emission and plug-in hybrid light-duty electric vehicles by 2030; Phase 1 and 2 GHG regulations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks; and Innovative Clean Transit.

  • Implement a process for intra-state agency and regional and local transportation coordination on automated vehicles to ensure shared policy goals in achieving safe, energy efficient, and low carbon autonomous vehicle deployment that also contribute to VMT reductions.

  • Continue LCFS activities, with increasing stringency of at least 18% reduction in carbon intensity (CI).

  • Adopt regulations to reduce and recover methane from landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, and manure at dairies; use the methane as a source of renewable gas to fuel vehicles and generate electricity; and establish infrastructure development and procurement policies to deliver renewable gas to the market.

  • Accelerate deployment of alternative fueling infrastructure.

  • Implement the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan: 25% improvement of freight system efficiency by 2030; deployment of more than 100,000 freight vehicles and equipment capable of zero emission operation; maximize near-zero emission freight vehicles and equipment powered by renewable energy by 2030.

  • Develop a set of complementary policies to make light-duty ZEVs clear market winners, with a goal of reaching 100% light-duty ZEV sales.

  • Develop a Low-Emission Diesel Standard to diversify the fuel pool by incentivizing increased production of low-emission diesel fuels. This standard is anticipated to both displace consumption of conventional diesel with increased use of low-emission diesel fuels, and to reduce emissions from conventional fuels.


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