California air regulator rolls out draft plan to achieve 2030 climate goals

California’s air quality regulator issued a draft plan for reaching the state’s climate goals, though it points out that a large part of the strategy will be to continue with requirements and restrictions already in place at the federal and state level.

“Many of the strategies to achieve the 2030 target are already required mandates in statute, being implemented for achieving federal or State air quality standards, or being pursued to reduce dependence on fossil energy,” according to the report.

CARB said the ultimate goal is improved public health, a growing economy and better clean energy choices for the state. Chair of the board, Mary Nichols said in a statement that the draft plan builds on “California’s decade-long success in transforming the state’s economy.”

Over the summer, California lawmakers voted this week to pass legislation extending greenhouse gas emissions targets, including new requirements on CARB.

The proposal “sets in place a public process to develop the policies that will create continued opportunities for innovation and investment, benefit disadvantaged communities and ensure California continues to lead the fight against the global threat of climate change,” Nichols said.

The draft plan analyzes continuing the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is currently being used to reach the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The results show the program provides more certainty that the state will meet the 2030 goals even if other measures fall short.The cap-and-trade program also funds the California Climate Change Investments program, which provides funds aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To date, approximately $3.4 billion has been invested.

California’s cap-and-trade program is the second largest in the world outside of Europe; it began operating in 2012. But the state’s most recent carbon allowance auction fell short of expectations, leaving the state millions of dollars short of its revenue expectations because emissions are already projected to be below the 2020 cap.

Another update to CARB’s plan will be issued in January, according to the board, following a workshop this month. The updated plan is expected to include detailed economic and environmental analyses and will document the social cost of carbon, as required by state law. A final plan is expected to be issued in the spring.