California plans to raise carbon limits on fuels

ARB proposes to reduce the carbon intensity of marine fuels by 25%.

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Updated on 15 Dec 2008 10:10 GMT

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has approved California's plan to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

In a document, entitled "Climate Change Proposed Scoping Plan: A Framework for Change" prepared by the California Air Resources Board for the State of California, the plan also calls for the expansion of efficiency strategies and low carbon fuels for ships in order to achieve additional reductions from the transportation sector by 2030.

"This plan is California's prospectus for a more secure and sustainable economy," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. "It will guide capital investments into energy efficiency to save us money, into renewable energy to break our dependence on oil, and promote a new generation of green jobs for hundreds of thousands of Californians."

By moving first in the nation," added Nichols, "California maintains its position at the front of the line in attracting venture capital, and positions us as a leader in the race to develop the clean technology products, patents and projects the global market demands and needs."

Development of the Scoping Plan is a central requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Nuñez, Pavley), that requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law in September 2006.

The plan is built on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions by approximately 30 percent, and grow the economy in a clean and sustainable direction.

An important component of the plan is a cap-and-trade program covering 85 percent of the state's emissions. This program will be developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, comprised of seven US states and four Canadian provinces that have committed to cap their emissions and create a regional carbon market.

The plan also proposes energy efficiency measures and a range of regulations to reduce emissions from ships docked in California ports.

Included in the plan is the ARB's proposal to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 25 percent (a further decrease from the 10 percent level set for 2020).

The Scoping Plan also proposes the implementation of adopted regulations for the use of shore power for ships at berth and improved efficiency in goods movement activities.

Activity at California ports is forecast to increase by 250 percent between now and 2020. Both the Goods Movement Emission Reduction Plan (GMERP) and the 2007 State Implementation Plan (SIP) contain a number of measures designed to reduce the public health impact of goods movement activities in California.

The ARB has already adopted a regulation to require ship electrification at ports. Proposition 1B funds, as well as clean air plans being implemented by California’s ports, are also aimed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions whilst also cutting criteria pollutant and toxic diesel emissions.

The ARB is proposing to develop and implement additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to goods movement from ports, trucks and other related facilities.

Commenting on the additional measures, the ARB said "The anticipated reductions would be above and beyond what is already expected in the GMERP and the SIP. This effort should provide accompanying reductions in air toxics and smog forming emissions."

The ARB will begin developing detailed strategies to implement all of the recommended measures that must be in place by 2012.

The approval of the Scoping Plan marks California as the first state in the nation to formally approve a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction plan that is required under statute and that involves every sector of the economy.

The plan is the product of an 18-month-long public process with scores of workshops and public meetings and hundreds of people testifying in person before the board. ARB staff received more than 43,000 individual comments, and more than a quarter-million copies of the plan have been viewed or downloaded from ARB's website since it was released on October 15th.

In its closing comments, the ARB's Scoping Plan concluded: "Reaching our goals will also require flexibility. As we move forward, we must be prepared to make mid-course corrections. AB 32 wisely requires ARB to update its Scoping Plan every five years, thereby ensuring that California stays on the path toward a low carbon future.

"This plan is part of a new chapter for California that in many ways began with the passage and signing of AB 32. It proposes a comprehensive set of actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on oil, diversify our energy sources, save energy, create new jobs, and enhance public health."

The Scoping Plan and all appendices can be viewed at the following address: