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ARB releases plan to slash short-lived climate pollutants
Reductions of potent heat-trapping gases will deliver health and economic benefits
SACRAMENTO - Building on California’s climate leadership, the Air Resources Board today released a draft Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, pursuant to Senate Bill 605 (Lara). The draft strategy describes proposed actions the State will take to move forward aggressively to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and help meet Governor Brown’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
SLCPs include methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases (F-gases) such as refrigerants, insulating foam and aerosol propellants. They are harmful air pollutants and powerful contributors to climate change, trapping heat at many times the level of carbon dioxide, and are responsible for about 40 percent of current global warming.
The draft strategy follows Governor Brown’s announcement last Thursday – at an event in New York hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants – that California would reduce emissions of methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 40 percent below current levels by 2030, and black carbon by 50 percent below current levels by 2030. It also comes a week after bi-partisan legislation was re-introduced in the U.S. Senate to address SLCPs nationally.
“We’re completely committed,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “We’re mobilizing the science, we’re mobilizing the legislative resources, and whatever else is needed. We will also continue to work with countries like Mexico, India and China to help them deal with air pollution issues.”
The Missing Link: Controlling Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Strong, immediate action to cut emissions of both carbon dioxide and SLCPs is necessary to limit average global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
“California has set ambitious climate goals and has the most comprehensive set of policies and programs in place to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions from all sources,” said Mary Nichols, Chair of the Air Resources Board. “Now, we’re doing the same for short-lived climate pollutants. They’re the missing link on our global path to limiting warming below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Building on Success
The draft strategy describes existing and proposed new efforts to meet the targets laid out by the Governor.
Black carbon is a component of fine particulate matter, which the State has addressed for decades through its efforts to improve air quality and reduce toxic air pollution from diesel vehicles. California has cut emissions of black carbon by well over 90 percent since the 1960s. These efforts avoid an estimated 5,000 premature deaths in the State each year, have cut cancer risk from exposure to air toxics by nearly 70 percent since 1990, and have been linked to improved lung function and capacity in children.
The draft strategy recommends building on, accelerating, and expanding existing state and local programs to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, including those related to sustainable freight, clean energy and improved forest management.
California already has measures in place to reduce methane from many of its sources, and is developing a comprehensive framework to minimize methane emissions from oil and gas systems.
The draft strategy proposes achieving additional reductions through investments, incentives, regulations and other actions to capture value from organic waste streams in California that are responsible for about half of the state’s methane emissions. Renewable energy, compost and other products from organic waste streams could represent a billion dollar market for California, with much of the economic activity centralized in the Central Valley and rural parts of the state.
To put these resources to good use, the strategy proposes a regulation to effectively eliminate the disposal of organics in landfills by 2025, and actions to cut methane emissions from dairy manure by 75 percent below current levels by 2030.
Under AB 32, the State already has a program in place to address leaks from commercial refrigeration systems that will cut F-gas emissions by an estimated 25 percent in 2020 below otherwise expected levels. Additional steps are proposed in the strategy to accelerate the transition away from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in new refrigeration, air conditioning equipment and by taking early actions to significantly reduce these gases from commercial refrigeration.
International support is growing for an agreement in November to phase down the production and use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Doing so would significantly curtail greenhouse gas emissions from the fastest growing source globally. If an agreement is not reached in November, California may develop its own phase down, as Europe and other countries already are doing.
Action on SLCPs is an integral part of global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize the impacts of climate change. It can deliver immediate global climate and local health and economic benefits.
"If more countries, states and cities took the same bold steps as California already has on black carbon, and intends to take on methane, we could cut global warming by half a degree Celsius in the next 20 years, save about 3 million lives annually, and cut global crop losses by about 50 million tonnes per year,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. "We can scale up these kinds of actions through peer-to-peer support and partnerships such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition."
To view the draft Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy and additional information on SLCPs, click here.
ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.