The California Air Resources Board released its most aggressive climate plan yet, targeting net-zero by 2045 or sooner while creating 4 million jobs.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), a state agency with the power to regulate air pollution, has released its scoping plan and set out the marching orders for the state’s path to net-zero emissions. It is among the world’s most aggressive climate plans, making drastic changes to a state that would represent the world’s fourth-largest economy if it were a sovereign nation.
The benefits of the plan by 2045 include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% below 1990 levels, reducing smog-causing air pollution by 71%, and reducing fossil fuel (liquid oil) use to less than a tenth of what is used today a 94% reduction in demand. The 2045 plan is expected to create 4 million new jobs and save Californians an estimated $200 billion in health care costs due to pollution.
“Clearly, this plan sets out challenging and ambitious goals, but we simply have no choice but to achieve them in less than a quarter century,” said Liane Randolph, Chair of CARB. “We’ve all experienced the effects of climate change firsthand, whether it’s wildfires, droughts, record-breaking heatwaves and more. Failure is not an option.”
The new plan envisages a 48% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, surpassing the legal requirement to cut emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The plan also does not call for new fossil gas capacity in the power sector; Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 30 million tons by 2030. It aims to build at least 20 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2045; 3 million climate-friendly homes by 2030 and 7 million by 2035; and 6 million heat pumps deployed by 2030. To reach the goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, the plan extends reliance on carbon capture, which many environmental groups criticize as an expensive, unproven technology that could extend the life of fossil fuel power plants.
The scoping report draws on Senate Bill 100, which revised California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to ensure that at least 60 percent of California’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030. In order to achieve this goal, the betting quotas must be increased significantly.
Energy efficiency mitigates some of the need for additional power generation. However, this slowdown will be quickly outpaced by increases in electricity demand of 26% by 2030 and 76% by 2045. According to CARB, the estimated resource build-up required to meet this level of demand is approximately 72 GW of utility-scale solar and 37 GW of battery storage by 2045. Annual build rates (over the 2022-2035 period) for the scoping Plan scenarios need to increase by approximately 60% and over 700% for utility solar and battery storage, respectively, compared to historical highs.
The plan also emphasizes decentralized energy to mitigate the challenges of climate-related disasters. “Heat, drought and wildfires can both reduce electricity supply by reducing hydroelectric generation and impact generation and transmission capacity, and increase demand, particularly in the evening hours when solar generation falls,” the report said.
Therefore, decentralized solar energy paired with storage is recommended by CARB. California has focused heavily on energy storage, bringing 3.5 GW of lithium-ion batteries to the grid since 2020.
CARB said it supports an emphasis on solar rooftops and distributed technologies like microgrids. However, while CARB can regulate emissions, it is unable to direct the regulatory and incentive structure for zero-emission energy sources. This is the responsibility of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). showed an affinity for centralized power built by utility companies owned by investors.
“At a time when California faces severe wildfires, droughts and other extreme weather-related disasters, our state’s leadership in addressing climate change – as we poised to become the world’s fourth-largest economy – is more important than ever. CARB’s new plan to reduce pollution from global warming takes critical steps to accelerate the journey to 100% clean energy that will ensure a healthier, safer and cleaner future here in the Golden State and beyond,” said Laura Deehan , Director of Environmental Protection for the State of California.
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