California’s Strategy to Combat Climate Change
The California Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposed strategy on reducing the impacts of climate change focused on curbing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).
SLCPs, referred to in the report as “super pollutants” include soot, methane, and fluorinated gases. These, the report says, “have an outsized impact on climate change in the near term, compared to longer-lived GHGs, such as carbon dioxide.”
Reducing SLCP emissions using existing technologies and resource management strategies can cut the rate of global warming in half, according to the report, can slow the rising of sea levels, reduce disruption of rainfall patterns, and boost agricultural productivity by reducing crop losses to
air pollution. Pursuing such a strategy, the paper says, SLCP emissions can be controlled by 2030, with substantial global benefits to follow.
This EPA’s proposed SLCP Reduction Strategy lays out a range of options to accelerate SLCP emission reductions in California, including regulations, incentives, and other market-supporting activities.
Among the trade and transportation implications of the proposed strategy, the report notes that billions of dollars in public and private investments are anticipated to support efforts to reduce SLCP and CO2 emissions in the form of sustainable freight systems. “Many of the benefits will accrue in the Central Valley, rural parts of the state, or other areas disproportionately impacted by pollution, such as those along freight corridors,” the report notes.
Among the specific proposals of the strategy, the EPA advocates putting the state’s organic waste to beneficial use, such as for electrical generation, transportation fuel, and pipeline-injected renewable natural gas.
Reduction of fluorinated gases is given priority, and in particular HFCs, as they are the fastest-growing source of GHG emissions in California. More than three-quarters of HFC emissions in California come from the use of refrigerants in the commercial, industrial, residential, and transportation sectors. There has been momentum in the U.S. and globally to reduce the usage of the highest-polluting refrigerants. In the absence of sufficient progress on the international front by the end of 2016, the report says, California should evaluate the feasibility of a phasedown of HFCs that aligns with similar efforts in Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
This Proposed Strategy identifies measures that can reduce HFC emissions by 40 percent in California by 2030 and potentially capture additional, available reductions in HFC emissions now, and into the future. “Many of these measures could have associated energy efficiency benefits, as well,” the report says.
Effectively implementing the proposed strategy will require concerted efforts with local, regional, federal and international partners, the report notes. California has signed a number of agreements to work together with other countries, including China and Mexico, to support actions to fight climate change and cut air pollution. California has also brought together subnational jurisdictions under the Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding which commits signatories to take steps to reduce SLCP and CO2 emissions. To date, 127 jurisdictions have signed or endorsed the MOU, representing over 729 million people and $20.4 trillion in GDP, equivalent to more than a quarter of the global economy.
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