California’s leadership on climate protection will falter if it fails to reduce carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by the start of the next decade as predicted by a new report by Energy Innovation. The state will fall short of the 2030 greenhouse gas reduction mandate by 50 million metric tons, or 20%, unless it changes course, warns the study released at the end of last week.
“If the world loses one of its decarbonization stalwarts, reducing GHG emissions enough to preserve a safe climate—which is already a stretch—becomes even more challenging,” concludes the analysis based on the San Francisco-based energy and climate think tank‘s modeling.
Energy Innovation modeled the California Air Resources Board’s controversial draft 2022 Scoping Plan—the state’s blueprint for reducing greenhouse gases. If it’s adopted as is, the projected shortfall is the equivalent of 215,000 gas-powered vehicles in one year, or 1.1 billion tons of coal burned, concludes the California Energy Policy Simulator 3.3.1 Update. That is largely because CARB’s plan relies heavily on unproven technologies that seek to directly and indirectly capture carbon and sequester it long term.
To meet the target, the report recommends replacing fossil fuels with affordable clean energy to “build a stronger state economy.” It proposes rebalancing “California’s climate strategy toward earlier action with available solutions, and less reliance on unproven technology like [carbon dioxide removal].”
The company developed a free, open source model known as the California Energy Policy Simulator.
Emissions should fall to 260 million metric tons to comply with the state’s carbon protection law but under the Scoping Plan, California will curb emissions only by 307 MMT by 2030. Clean air and environmental justice advocates panned the plan when it came out in May, warning of its misguided faith in carbon capture and sequestration.
To attain the necessary emission reductions by the end of the decade and full decarbonization by 2045, the report calls for advancing the zero-emissions vehicle sales mandates, increasing building electrification and renewable levels, and avoiding burdening ratepayers with billions of dollars of utility wildfire mitigation costs and undermining their potential investments in electric appliances and cars.
Adopting Energy Innovation’s recommendations would save households an estimated $1,540 in 2030, rising to $2,426 in 2035. The report also states that making the needed climate protection changes would grow California’s Gross Domestic Product by $28 billion in 2031, reaching $60 billion by midcentury factoring in social, health, and climate benefits.
The report specifically recommends moving the 2035 state requirement that all new car and light-duty truck sales be zero emissions to 2030, plus requiring that all heavy-duty freight trucks sold be emissions-free by 2035. Making these changes in state law would cut 38.3 MMT of projected emissions per year, the report concludes. It also insists that ratepayers not be burdened by nearly $40 billion of utility wildfire mitigation costs to avoid undermining the electrification of vehicles and homes.
The study further recommends:
- Requiring appliances in new homes to be all electric and that old gas appliances on their last legs be replaced with electric ones, which would curb another 19 MMT of greenhouse gases each year;
- Raising the clean energy standard to 76% renewables and 92% zero emissions in 2030 to lower emissions by 11 MMT/year; and
- Jump-starting industrial decarbonization by fuel switching to electricity and hydrogen, with a focus on emissions reduction in food and beverage processing to curb emissions by 31 MMT/year.
CARB will hold a public hearing this Thursday on its draft plan. It’s expected to adopt its latest draft Scoping Plan at the end of this year at the earliest.