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AB32 2013 Policy Update (five-year update)

Notes from June 13, 2013 Kickoff Sacramento Workshop

Please be sure to read "California AB32 Summary" first, as it contextualizes the 2013 Policy Update.

The Air Resources Board's (ARB) 88-slide PPT presentation, http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/meetings/061313/spu_workshop_presentation_final.pdf, is referenced below.

2013 TO 2020 ITEMS

It was strange that it was news to some in the audience that ARB plans to continue Cap and Trade beyond 2020. There is no way to meet 2050 GHG reduction goals without a carbon price and without a ratcheting up of the Cap and Trade regimen. It may have been that ARB had to initially propose a limited duration Cap and Trade because of political viability concerns.

There are only four months for ARB to put together a Scoping Plan Update document for approval by the board, so this update is not going to be the last word on CA climate. The 2020 AB32 goal is only to match 1990 emissions - this is good, but less ambitious than the Kyoto Protocol and less ambitious than what is needed. An audience member asked that a list of new, cost-effective measures be developed to be available should CA choose to move faster. ARB stated that a few new immediate implementation GHG reduction measures may be proposed in this Update.

GHG emissions have been going down (see slide 18) since 2008. Some of this is due to the economic recession, some to ARB's early implementation measures. ARB does NOT have a numeric breakout of recession-induced GHG reduction versus early measures GHG reductions at this point, and was justifiably beaten up for not having this important data. CA GHG is tracking to meet 2020 objectives, the trend line is promising.

In the 88-slide PPT, see slides entitled "Participating State Agencies." This shows the incredible amount of cross-departmental work that is being led by ARB. If ARB staff did not have a high collective Social IQ, the process could be in much worse shape.

Six ARB staff presented the 88-slide PPT during the 5 hour meeting. The slides were somewhat simple given that some members in the audience (non-profits and utility companies) were very deeply involved in the AB32 process. Imagine the challenge of being an ARB staffer presenting to an audience that ranges from extremely pro-climate folks to the Proposition 23 backers like CMTA. It's a tough job, but no sparks flew.

BEYOND 2020

This Update will begin a lengthy process of laying out a plan for GHG reductions beyond 2020. This Update will specifically NOT propose a step by step plan to achieve 2050 reductions. Instead, the Update will define the research needs for creating a more detailed post-2020 plan.

There isn't a formal mid-point GHG reduction objective yet for ARB for between 2020 (100% of 1990 GHG) and 2050 (20% of 1990 GHG). 2035 at 60% of 1990 GHG is one obvious mid-point objective that probably should be adopted (just interpolate).

For post 2020, it is clear than an iterative process will be required, so it is good that ARB is required to update the AB32 Scoping Plan every 5 years. An iterative process is required because we cannot predict what CA will be like in 2030, 2040, and 2050. Will some of the climate crises hit home? For example:
In 2042, will we have 40% less water because the Sierra snowpack disappears? Will mass green behavior change occur? To reduce GHG, a more rational species would be primarily vegetarian at some point. Could the beginnings of climate-caused "Darfurs on steroids" bring about behavior and political change? What if one of the ice sheets hits a tipping point and we can all see that we are tracking for far worse than IPCC projections? When will the cost of living rise and result in reduced GHG production?

The pace of change and innovation is increasing, so the 2050 world will be composed of some new things that we can't even envision in 2013. As of 2013, 2050 is science fiction. Will there be some new, transformative technology? Will that technology be beneficial or detrimental?

For more information about the 2013 Scoping Plan update process, please follow this link:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/scopingplan.htm