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Calif. air agency updates 2030 climate plan, approves $663M for clean transport

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Calif. air agency updates 2030 climate plan, approves $663M for clean transport

The California Air Resources Board, or CARB, on Dec. 14 updated its strategy for slashing the state's greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and approved $663 million for electric and low-carbon transportation, a central part of the plan. In its update of the so-called "scoping plan," initiated in response to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the agency detailed measures to meet the 2030 target and put the state on a path to achieve an even deeper decarbonization of 80% by 2050 "to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change," CARB chair Mary Nichols said at a meeting ahead of the board's unanimous vote. The plan is updated every five years.

The 2017 version incorporates several new laws enacted over the past two years, including a measure that extended the state's cap-and-trade program to 2030, and one that requires utilities to cover 50% of their retail sales with renewable energy by 2030. Utilities, however, are on track to hit that target a decade early. "Early estimates failed to anticipate how quickly these technologies would fall in cost and become economical to deploy," Nichols said, adding that the fast progress would give a boost to meeting the state's climate policies.

The plan leans heavily on measures to clean up the transportation sector, which accounts for the largest share of California's greenhouse gas emissions at nearly 40%, according to CARB. The agency's "mobile source strategy" envisions "at least" 4.2 million zero-emission light duty vehicles on the road by 2030, up from about 350,000 in 2017, in addition to expanding fleets of zero- and low-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including transit buses. California utilities are investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the expectation that the vast majority of state's zero-emission vehicles will be electric.

At the meeting, CARB's board also approved $663 million for clean transportation initiatives in the state's 2017-2018 fiscal year, including $398 million for heavy-duty trucks, buses and freight projects and $140 million for a program that offers rebates for electric and other zero-emission car purchases. Another $125 million is reserved for programs that fund clean transportation in low-income areas. Proceeds from the state's cap-and-trade auctions cover most of the investments.