The draft, if adopted by state regulators this year, would radically transform California’s economy over two decades, cutting oil use by 91% from 2022 levels and powering businesses, buildings and transportation largely from solar energy, wind and other renewable sources. The plan, issued Tuesday by the California Air Resources Board, wouldn’t entirely end carbon emissions by 2045. Instead, it calls for capturing and storing some emissions that can’t easily be eliminated by the target date.
California officials said the plan could serve as a blueprint for other states and countries. The draft includes two scenarios for reaching net carbon neutrality in 2035, a specific request from Governor Gavin Newsom. But staff members who drafted the report recommended against that earlier target, calling it too expensive. The report’s preferred scenario would have a “negligible” impact on the state’s economic growth, they wrote, while improving health through reduced air pollution.
“There has to be consideration of not only feasibility but affordability,” Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.
The plan’s authors said it isn’t feasible to fully phase out oil and gas production by 2045—a deadline Newsom wanted studied. The reason: trains, planes and cargo ships may still need fossil fuels. That angered some environmentalists and clean-energy advocates, who said the plan would allow continued polluting from the fossil-fuel industry and relies too much on technologies for capturing and storing carbon that have never been deployed at scale.
“The California Air Resources Board cannot afford to fumble the ball this late in the game by moving forward with a risky, ineffective scoping plan that relies on a faulty pathway to neutrality, and that disregards Governor Newsom’s call to accelerate our ambition,” said Daniel Kammen, chair of the energy and resources group at UC Berkeley, in a release.