California’s A.B. 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, requires the State to reduce its overall emissions of Greenhouse Gases (“GHGs”) to 1990 levels by 2020. The precursor to AB 32 was State Executive Order S-3-05, which required statewide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 20% of those levels by 2050. S-3-05 also formed the "Climate Action Team" made up of major state agencies subject to it.
Under AB 32, the California Air Resources Board (“ARB”), adopted
regulations defining the 1990 levels the state must return to,
and issued mandatory reporting rules for major emitters. It has also adopted a number
of “early actions” to begin reducing statewide emissions while ARB's ultimate
regulations are in process.
The ultimate regulations are to go into effect by January 1, 2012, and may involve a
"cap and trade" scheme. AB 32 requires ARB to prepare a "Scoping
Plan" to facilitate preparation of those ultimate regulations, and a draft letter of that Scoping Plan is currently under review. It must be adiopted by ARB in November 2008.
The Climate Action Team has formed a series of subgoups to provide input to ARB on its Scoping Plan. One of those relates to the impacts of land use on GHG emissions, and the legislature just passsed SB375 in August, 2008.
Local public agencies may be affected by AB 32 through:
- If they are significant direct emitters, like municipal utilities, they may need to reduce their GHG emissions directly - or participate in the expected "cap and trade" scheme.
- If they grant approvals to projects that lead to significant GHG emissions, such as land use, they may need to consider the impacts of those emissions (usually from potentially increased vehicle miles traveled, or "VMT") under CEQA and to take steps to mitigate them. For the latest resources on GHG emissions and CEQA, please see our Resources page, under the heading on AB 32 and CEQA.
- If they receive funding from state agencies or state bond measures, they may either receive or be denied funds from agencies participating in the Climate Action Team based on the climate change implications of their projects
- If they wish to gain added revenues, they may be able to obtain them by altering emissions attributable to them, generating quantifiable GHG offsets or obtaining “voluntary reduction” credits under the law.
For more information on how your agency can respond, please see: