Monday, July 25, 2011
CARB Cuts AB 32 by Half
It's a momentous time in California, with the Air Resources Board (ARB or CARB) just announcing reduced targets for CO2 emissions under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, aka AB 32. see this link. The short version is that ARB have cut the required reductions approximately in half. The reasons cited are 1) reduced economic activity in California, and 2) some federal laws that were not in place in 2008 now require similar reductions, thus, it would be double-dipping to count those.
Some background, and the numbers, California's AB 32 requires the state to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions to 427 million tonnes per year of CO2-equivalent, by the year 2020. The CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) allows non-CO2 gases to be converted and counted as if they were CO2. The 427 million tonnes is what ARB calculated were emitted during 1990 - and it's really just an educated guess. No one really knows how much was emitted in 1990. Before the recent announcement, ARB had estimated that in 2020, California would emit approximately 600 million tonnes CO2-e without AB 32. This is the BAU (business as usual) case. The difference, 600 minus 427, is 173 which must be reduced by a long list of items that make up the AB 32 Scoping Plan.
I am not trying to take any credit for the reduction that ARB has just announced, however, in December 2008, I did write a letter to ARB's chairperson and stated that it was not accurate for AB 32 to claim credit for federal laws already on the books. see this link for the letter. Those reductions would occur even without AB 32. Of course, I received no reply to my letter. One particular item I wrote about was reduced emissions due to more-efficient cars, which in California is known as the Pavley standards. The federal law recently adopted most of the Pavley standards.
ARB's new target for reductions by 2020 is about half of the previous target, with 80 million tonnes CO2-e. ARB states that the deep and prolonged recession has reduced some of the CO2-e already.
We can all stay tuned, as California's economy worsens still more. At the current rate of collapse, the target 427 million tonnes CO2-e will be met entirely by economic recession in about, let's see, four more years. Call it 2016.
Roger E. Sowell, Esq.