California Air Resources Board Set to Finalize Ambitious Climate Plan

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released an updated version of its 2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality. The plan sets ambitious goals for achieving carbon neutrality in California by 2045. Despite the plan’s being only a guiding document, it will likely lead to other agency actions that set stringent requirements related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

CARB states that its 2022 plan “lays out the sector-by-sector roadmap for California, the world’s fifth largest economy, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 or earlier, outlining a technologically feasible, cost-effective, and equity-focused path to achieve the state’s climate target.” CARB prepared the plan based in part on the direction of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom and to include goals that expand on previous California plans for reducing emissions in the industrial, energy, and transportation sectors. The overall approach is now geared “to decarbonize every sector of the economy.”

The key concepts provided in the plan:

  • zero-emission transportation and the reduction of “California’s dependency on petroleum”
  • continued development of renewable energy sources to generate electricity and the phase-out of fossil fuels used for electricity generation and for heating uses
  • development of clean-fuels capabilities for “hard-to-electrify end uses” — with a focus on renewable hydrogen and biomethane

The plan sets a goal to reduce demand for liquid petroleum by 94% and total fossil fuel by 86% in 2045 compared to present-day use. It also focuses heavily on carbon capture and removal. Following finalization of the plan, it is expected that CARB and other agencies will begin to adopt rules that implement specific components of the plan in moving toward the 2045 neutrality goal.

The plan is set to be finalized by vote at CARB’s meeting scheduled for December 15, 2022.

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