Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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California Board Targets ‘Short-Lived’ Pollutants

SACRAMENTO (CN) - California Gov. Jerry Brown's assault on climate change intensified Wednesday as state regulators introduced a plan to drastically cut short-lived climate pollutants, including methane and black carbon, by 2030.

Regulators say the plan targets air pollutants responsible for approximately 40 percent of current global warming and curbing short-lived climate pollutants emissions is the "only way to immediately slow global warming."

The 77-page draft released by the California Air Resources Board calls on the state to target dairies and landfills - which produce massive amounts of methane emissions - and develop ways to recycle their waste products.

"California can cut methane emissions by 40 percent below current levels in 2030 by avoiding or capturing methane from manure at dairies, meeting national industry targets for reducing methane emissions from enteric fermentation, effectively eliminating disposal of organics in landfills and reducing fugitive methane emissions by 40-45 percent from all sources," the report states.

Pollutants such as methane, black carbon and fluorinated gases remain in the atmosphere for much shorter time periods than carbon dioxide emissions caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. Board scientists say that cutting short-lived pollutants is necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and reduce catastrophic sea level rise.

The strategy also calls for a 50 percent reduction in black carbon emissions caused by wood burning fireplaces, industrial plants and off-road vehicles. It suggests a state-funded fireplace replacement program that many counties have already employed to cut back on air pollution in residential neighborhoods.

Along with man-made short-lived climate pollutant emissions, the draft cites wildfires as the largest source of black carbon emissions in California. The board recommends clearing dead growth in forests to reduce fuels for future wildfires and using the wood to produce renewable energy.

"California's commitment to improve the health and management of forests will boost California's forest economy and limit black carbon emissions from wildfires and biomass burning," according to the report.

The board mentions the state's historic drought and massive wildfires as examples of the impact climate change has already had on the state.

"What was once, and remains, a generational problem of CO2 balance in the atmosphere has now become an immediate threat to our California lifestyle," the draft states.

On Thursday Brown reiterated his support for the board and its ability to implement his stringent climate change initiatives. The unelected state agency has come under fire recently by conservative lawmakers who claim its current and future emissions regulations could strangle small businesses.

At a board climate change workshop, Brown said cutting greenhouse gases is a massive undertaking and that "the people who have the best understanding and the best capability to do things [are] right here."

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