Sekita Grant of the Greenlining Institute, a member of ARB’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, leads a discussion about transportation. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2006, opened the door for cap and trade, which among other things collects revenue to be invested in reducing emissions. The bill, A.B. 32, also created an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee to help the state spend those revenues equitably.
The existence of this committee was an acknowledgement that the costs of cap and trade would ultimately be borne by consumers, and that communities that have been more heavily affected by climate change and pollution—usually low-income communities and people of color—while contributing monetarily, could potentially miss out on its benefits.
A.B. 32 also set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In April of this year Governor Brown signed an executive order that extended that goal, to a target of forty percent below 1990 levels by 2030. If the world could achieve that level of emissions, global warming would remain below the threshold of major climate disruptions, according to scientific consensus.
Brown’s executive order also calls for a new scoping plan to define priorities and create strategies to reach the new emission reduction target.
Air Resources Board (ARB) staff released a draft Scoping Plan Concept Paper [PDF] last month. The scoping plan is a giant effort that integrates existing plans, including the Sustainable Freight Action Plan and the California Transportation Plan 2040, and identifies policies to minimize costs and maximize solutions for multiple state goals, including economic vitality. It has to create a flexible framework, both because there are many, sometimes competing, goals and because greenhouse gas reduction strategies vary widely and need to be evaluated and adjusted as we learn more about them and their interactions with each other.
The environmental justice piece includes the recognition that “the capacity for resilience in the face of climate change is significantly driven by living conditions and the forces that shape them, such as income, education, housing, transportation, environmental quality, access to services such as health care, healthy foods and water, and safe spaces for physical activity, and good health status,” according to the Scoping Plan Concept Paper. Therefore strategies that focus on alleviating poverty, increasing opportunity, improving living conditions, and reducing health and social inequities “will result in more climate-resilient communities.”
The concept paper discusses various scenarios, for example: business as usual, continued cap and trade with a lower cap, or replacing cap and trade with a carbon tax. Each scenario would require different strategies and would vary in emission reductions.
Right now, the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee focuses on listening to advocates and the public’s concerns about environmental justice issues to keep in mind as they advise the ARB on the scoping plan. To that end, they have held meetings so far in San Bernardino, San Diego, and Oakland—the last of which Streetsblog attended last night.
The Air Resources Board’s greenhouse gas inventory shows lower emissions since the passage of A.B. 32. Image from the Scoping Plan Concept Paper
Future meetings will be held starting next Monday in Wilmington, followed by meetings in South Los Angeles, Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield, and Sacramento. See the end of this post for details.
At last night’s meeting, ARB staff and Environmental Justice Advisory Committee members first talked about what the state has achieved so far (some progress toward achieving the 2020 statewide GHG target accompanied by solid economic growth) and what it needs to achieve in the future (much more aggressive reductions in greenhouse gases, requiring more aggressive action by everyone— “all hands on deck”).
Then the meeting broke up into smaller discussion groups to tackle four issues in particular greenhouse gas-producing sectors: transportation, energy, industry, and natural and working lands, including urban forests.