Carbon Syncing with 2030 Mandates
Just under a decade is all that remains to stop irreversible damage to the Earth from climate change. This was concluded in the 2019 report issued by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with the next report due in 2022, which will be more daunting. According to distinguished scientists, the only lever we have left to bend the warming curve is to reduce short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and HFCs. We need to focus on near-term solutions now to reduce short-lived climate pollutants by 2030, and not defer tough choices today for some electrified carbon neutral future by 2045. The implementation of SB 1383 (Lara, 2016) that plans to reduce methane by 40% in 2030 by diverting 75% of the organic waste stream from landfills is the lever that needs to be pulled now. CalRecycle has rolled out the regulations with the 15-year capacity planning and procurement tools to move forward.
California Air Resources Board kicked off their 2022 Scoping Plan Third Update process with a series of workshops in early June – with a goal to be carbon neutral by 2045 – and proposed initiatives to electrify the transportation sector and squeeze out renewable natural gas, bioenergy, and any type of combustion sooner than is feasible. It was evident that CARB was going to leapfrog over 2030 goals with an electrification dream scheme that could actually keep diesel fleets on the road for another 13 to 18 years until heavy-duty electrification could possibly become viable a generation from now, against the waste industry phasing out diesel use since the early 2000s.
With a sense of urgency muddled in an alarming heat wave, Governor Newsom doubled down last Friday and requested CARB to evaluate pathways for the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and stepping up the state’s pace in achieving zero carbon electricity to 2030. Syncing the time frames will force CARB to honestly model 2030 targets and utilize existing cost-effective programs that are carbon negative and carbon neutral now. CARB needs to be transparent with their carbon metrics.
The State Auditor released Report 2020-114, ‘California Air Resources Board – Improved Program Measurement Would Help California Work More Strategically to Meet Its Climate Change’. There were several key recommendations to meet the 2030 targets. These recommendations that should be woven into the fabric of the Scoping Plan Third Update include; (1) Better demonstrate that its incentive programs are as effective as possible in achieving specific socioeconomic benefits; (2) Provide transparency to the Legislature and other stakeholders and using the metrics and data to make funding and design recommendations in its funding plans and annual reports; and (3) improve its ability to identify the effectiveness of each of its incentive programs in reducing GHG emissions and define, collect, and evaluate data on the behavioral changes that result from each of its incentive programs. CARB should be directed to integrate these cost-effective carbon metrics from the State Auditor’s office in modeling 2030 and 2035.
The ‘2021 Annual Report to the Legislature on California Climate Investments Using Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds’ lists the cost-effectiveness of each program in terms of GHG reduction cost per ton where CalRecycle programs that reduce short-lived climate pollutants are just $10-$55 per ton to make compost and renewable natural gas. The Scoping Plan Third Update will focus on carbon sequestration with compost use on natural and working lands where January 2019 Draft California 2030 Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan is to double the compost and mulch use by 2030. According to new research, soil could act as a huge carbon sink to help balance out greenhouse gases withholding up to three times as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere. If we can tap into its potential to sequester more carbon, dirt could save the Earth. Bending the climate curve requires a focus on short-lived climate pollutant mitigation programs. CARB needs to sync 2030 goals and modelling with the natural and working lands carbon sink in order to delay catastrophic climate change.