On November 16, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released the 2022 Scoping Plan, which serves as a blueprint as the state moves toward a 2045 carbon neutrality goal.

What is the Scoping Plan?

The Scoping Plan outlines a path to reduce air pollution by 71 percent, lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 85 percent by 2045 and cut fossil fuel consumption to under one-tenth of current use.

The Scoping Plan addresses a wide variety of issues and sectors from wildfires to transportation.  Regarding wildfires, CARB has a goal of building wildfire resistance efforts, including treating up to one million acres annually by the year 2025. Actions to “ramp-up the pace and scale of forest management and make threatened communities more resilient to catastrophic fires” are described within the Scoping Plan.

Aggressive goals continue to be at the forefront relating to fossil fuels. Specifically, the document states “the outcomes called for in this Scoping Plan would reduce demand for liquid petroleum by 94 percent and total fossil fuel by 86 percent in 2045 relative to 2022.” In addition, the Scoping Plan reiterates California’s requirement to attain “100 percent Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales of light-duty vehicles by 2035 and medium to heavy-duty vehicles by 2040” and outlines pathways to meet those directives.

Significant investments in infrastructure and technologies must be provided into the future to achieve the Scoping Plan’s benchmarks.

For agriculture, CARB’s Scoping Plan details steps to lower GHG emissions through various actions, such as the capture and storage of carbon on natural and working lands. Additionally, the Scoping Plan proposes an increase in climate smart agricultural practices for natural and working lands.

Incentives are Crucial

Farmers and food processors have invested a tremendous amount time, effort, and funds to slash carbon emissions, and we appreciate that the state has assisted in this endeavor with multiple matching grant programs.

The most expeditious path to boosting climate resilience is through voluntary incentives, and Ag Council continues to work along with others in agriculture to strongly urge state leaders and officials  to increase funding commitments for programs that successfully reduce carbon emissions.  This includes: the Food Production Investment Program (FPIP), the FARMER program helping lower ag equipment emissions, the Multi-Benefit Land Repurposing Program, Healthy Soils, the State Water Energy & Enhancement Program (SWEEP), the Dairy Digester Research & Development Program, the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) and more.

These competitive matching state grant programs have successfully assisted our members and others in achieving reductions unmatched by any other state in the nation.

The agricultural community understands it has the potential to further expand its work through programs in partnership with the state to slash carbon emissions. We have and continue to engage with the state to actively seek incentive dollars to help our sector attain California’s carbon reduction goals.

Additional Provisions

As discussed in a comment letter to CARB a few months ago, Ag Council remains concerned about provisions in the Scoping Plan calling for an increase in organic agriculture to “20 percent of all cultivated acres by 2045.” A mandated increase in organic production would result in rising food costs and affect hard-working Californians.

The Scoping Plan calls out methane from dairy and livestock, oil and gas systems and landfills as being the most significant drivers in California’s methane emissions. California has invested in significant dairy methane reduction efforts and the dairy community is on its way to achieving its methane reduction goals. Additional incentives are needed to pursue this path in the future, and Ag Council is supportive of state funding for dairy methane emissions reductions.

On the electricity grid, the document states, “Decarbonizing the electricity sector is a crucial pillar of this Scoping Plan. It depends on both using energy more efficiently and replacing fossil-fueled generation with renewable and zero carbon resources, including solar, wind, energy storage, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric power.”

Agriculture Leads on Climate Efforts

Between historic drought, record energy prices, inflation, labor shortages, and other issues, agriculture is confronting multiple challenges. Despite the difficulties, agriculture remains at the forefront of innovation and solutions when it comes to addressing climate impacts.

Our members believe in the good that they achieve by producing and processing a safe, nutritious, and locally grown food supply — this is positive for the people of California and for climate reductions given the advancements to tackle climate change with more efforts on the horizon.

Ag Council has been a leader on climate issues since the inception of the statewide cap and trade program. We will continue to actively collaborate with the state to address climate impacts and remain diligently engaged on behalf of our members as implementation of the Scoping Plan moves forward.

CARB plans to consider and vote on the Scoping Plan during its December 15-16 board meeting where it is widely expected to be approved. The full Scoping Plan document can be found by clicking HERE.