California Air Resources Board Releases Proposed Scoping Plan for GHG Reductions; Increasing Importance of Land Use and Regional Transit Policies

Jose Michael

Potential impacts of land-use and transit strategies on greenhouse gas emissions in California. Click to enlarge. Source: ARB, Rodier (2008)

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed Scoping Plan to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In June, ARB had released a discussion draft version. (Earlier post.) The final proposed plan released reflects additional analysis, and public input that ARB has received over the past several months. The plan is slated to go before the Board for approval at its December meeting.

Development of the Scoping Plan is a central requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In 2007, ARB established a 2020 GHG target of 427 MMTCO2e, requiring a reduction of 169 MMTCO2e—approximately 30%—from the state’s projected 2020 of 596 MMTCO2e in a business-as-usual scenario.

The transportation sector in California—largely the cars and trucks that move goods and people—is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, with 38% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. From an end-use perspective, on-road vehicles account for 36% of GHG emissions; passenger vehicles alone account for 30%. With no mitigating action, in a business-as-usual scenario, ARB expects total transportation sector emissions to increase by approximately 25% by 2020.

Accordingly, the Scoping Plan requires the largest sectorial chunk of reductions to come from transportation, outlining projected 62.3 MMTCO2e (37%) in reductions through a variety of measures.

As in the draft Scoping plan, the key transportation instrument is the light-duty vehicle greenhouse standards, followed by the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. In the final plan, however, ARB has increased its estimate of reductions in regional transportation greenhouse gases achieved through land-use changes and transit policies designed to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT); this is prior to setting the targets required by the newly enacted SB 375 (anti-sprawl bill). (Earlier post.)

The Pavley greenhouse gas vehicle standards to achieve near-term emission reductions represent the primary mechanism, supported by the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program to transform the future vehicle fleet, and the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program created by AB 118. Combined, these measures are to account for a reduction of 31.7 MMTCO2e—the same as in the draft plan.

AB 1493 (Pavley, Chapter 200, Statutes of 2002) directed ARB to adopt vehicle standards that lowered greenhouse gas emissions to the maximum extent technologically feasible, beginning with the 2009 model year. ARB adopted the regulations in 2004 and is suing the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act to implement the regulation. To date, 13 other states have adopted California’s existing greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. Assuming the waiver is granted, ARB plans to adopt a second, more stringent phase of the Pavley regulations.

ARB is also evaluating the use of feebates as a measure to achieve additional reductions, either as a backstop to the Pavley regulation if the regulation cannot be implemented, or as a supplement to Pavley if the waiver is approved and the regulation takes effect. (Earlier post.)

If the EPA does grant the request for the waiver, ARB says that it will analyze the potential for pursuing a feebate program that could complement the Pavley regulations and achieve additional reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Through 2012, the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program requires placement of hundreds of ZEVs (including hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles) and thousands of near-zero emission vehicles (plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids, compressed natural gas vehicles).

In the mid-term (2012-2015), the program will require placement of increasing numbers of ZEVs and near-zero emission vehicles in California. In 2009, the Board will consider a proposal that is currently being developed to ensure that the ZEV program is optimally designed to help the state meet its 2020 target and put the state on the path to meeting the 2050 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

ARB is also administering the Air Quality Improvement Program established under AB 118, which provides approximately $50 million per year for grants to fund clean vehicle/equipment projects and research on the air quality impacts of alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles.

AB 118 also created the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program and authorized CEC to spend up to $120 million per year for over seven years (from 2008-2015) to develop, demonstrate, and deploy innovative technologies to transform California’s fuel and vehicle types. This program creates the opportunities for investment in technologies and fuels that will help meet the Low Carbon Fuel Standard; the AB 1007 (Pavley, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2005) goal of increasing alternative fuels; the AB 32 goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and the overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Other policy instruments contributing to quantified reductions in transportation emissions, in order of decreasing contribution, include:

  • The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), 15 MMTCO2e. The LCFS is intended to reduce the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10% by 2020. ARB identified the LCFS as a Discrete Early Action item, and is developing a regulation for Board consideration in March 2009.

    A 10% reduction in the intensity of transportation fuels is expected to equate to a reduction of 16.5 MMTCO2E in 2020. In a change from the draft plan, ARB has discounted the contribution of the LCFS to 15 MMTCO2E to account for possible overlap of benefits between LCFS and the Pavley greenhouse gas standards.

  • Regional transportation greenhouse gas reduction, 5 MMTCO2e. ARB re-evaluated the potential benefits from regional targets for transportation-related greenhouse gases in consultation with regional planning organizations and researchers at UC Berkeley. Based on this information, ARB increased the anticipated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for Regional Transportation-Related Greenhouse Gas Targets from 2 to 5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

    This number represents an estimate of what may be achieved from local land use changes. It is not the newly enacted SB 375 (anti-sprawl bill) regional target. ARB will establish regional targets for each Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) region following the input of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee and a public consultation process with MPOs and other stakeholders per SB 375.

  • Vehicle Efficiency Measures, 4.5 MMTCO2e. ARB is pursuing a regulation to ensure that tires are properly inflated when vehicles are serviced. ARB is also pursuing ways to reduce engine load via lower friction oil and reducing the need for air conditioner use. In another adjustment to the draft plan, ARB has decreased the estimated reductions in this area.

  • Goods Movement, 3.7 MMTCO2e. The use of shore power for ships at berth and improved efficiency in good movement activities are the core of the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in this area. ARB has already adopted a regulation to require ship electrification at ports. Proposition 1B funds, as well as clean air plans being implemented by California’s ports, will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while cutting criteria pollutant and toxic diesel emissions.

    ARB is proposing to develop and implement additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to goods movement from trucks, ports and other related facilities.

    After further evaluation, ARB incorporated the Draft Scoping Plan’s Heavy-Duty Vehicle-Efficiency measure into the Goods Movement measure. A Heavy-Duty Engine Efficiency measure could reduce emissions associated with goods movement through improvements which could involve advanced combustion strategies, friction reduction, waste heat recovery, and electrification of accessories. ARB will consider setting requirements and standards for heavy-duty engine efficiency in the future if higher levels of efficiency are not being produced either in response to market forces (fuel cost) or federal standards.

  • Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Efficiency, 1.4 MMTCO2e. Requiring retrofits to improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks could include a requirement for devices that reduce aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. In addition, hybridization of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased fuel efficiency. ARB decreased the expected benefit from the level in the draft plan.

  • High-speed rail, 1.0 MMTCO2e. A high speed rail (HSR) system is part of the statewide strategy to provide more mobility choice and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This measure supports implementation of plans to construct and operate a HSR system between northern and southern California. As planned, the HSR is a 700-mile-long rail system capable of speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour on dedicated, fully-grade separated tracks with state-of-the-art safety, signaling and automated rail control systems. The system would serve the major metropolitan centers of California in 2030 and is projected to displace between 86 and 117 million riders from other travel modes in 2030.

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