CARB Releases its 2022 Scoping Plan Update to Achieve Ambitious State Goal of Carbon Neutrality

November 18, 2022

On November 16, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) released its final proposed 2022 Scoping Plan Update, which provides a comprehensive roadmap to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels, cut air pollution, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 or earlier.  CARB calls the plan “unprecedented in scale and scope, representing the most aggressive approach to reach carbon neutrality by any jurisdiction in the world.”  Implementation of the Scoping Plan involves a two-step approach: reducing sources of greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time promoting carbon capture and removal projects. Overall, the proposal aims to reach the following goals by 2045:

  • Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85% below 1990 levels
  • Achieve a 71% reduction in smog-forming air pollution
  • Reduce fossil fuel consumption (liquid petroleum) to less than one-tenth of what we use today— a 94% reduction in demand
  • Create 4 million new jobs
  • Save Californians $200 billion by 2045 in health costs due to pollution

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Plan outlines a series of actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a variety of sectors. To reduce fossil fuel consumption, the Plan proposes to electrify much of the state’s energy demand. For example, the Plan suggests meeting 20% of aviation fuel demand with electricity or hydrogen, transitioning passenger/freight train and on-road vehicle sales to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technology, and including non-combustion, electric appliances in new and existing buildings.  For energy demands that are difficult to electrify, the Plan proposes scaling green hydrogen and biomethane where needed. The switch to cleaner energy will require enormous growth and development of electricity production and distribution infrastructure.  The grid will necessarily become the “backbone for a decarbonized economy” while remaining reliable, affordable, and resilient.

Increasing Carbon Capture/Sequestration and Removal

To address all remaining GHG emissions that cannot be completely eliminated, the Plan contemplates both carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects as well as mechanical and nature-based carbon removal systems. CCS projects are often paired with large GHG-emitting facilities such as energy, manufacturing, or fuel production facilities and include CO2 injection into geologic formations (such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs and saline formations), as well as use in industrial materials (e.g., concrete). For example, CCS projects can be implemented at cement plants and remaining petroleum refineries where there is currently no technically feasible alternative to combustion.  The Plan also highlights direct air capture projects where CO2 is removed from the ambient air through different mechanical technologies, such as chemical scrubbing and mineral carbonation, or natural processes.

The CARB Board will vote on the 2022 update to the Scoping Plan at its December 15–16 meeting. The full 2002 Scoping Plan Document and more information can be found here.