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More California climate action — a new proposal pushes the state to carbon neutrality

Governor Gavin Newsom claims it will spur “an economic transformation akin to the industrial revolution.”

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Following the re-election of California Governor Gavin Newsom and new greenhouse gas statistics from the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the California Air Resources Board released a new proposal on Wednesday to help the state become carbon neutral by 2045.

Newsom's press release touts the proposal as "the most ambitious climate action of any jurisdiction in the world." The plan claims to create 4 million new jobs and save $200 billion in healthcare costs due to pollution. It also outlines severing greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, air pollution by 71% and plummeting gas consumption by 94%.

The 280-page proposal calls for carbon removal and capture, 6 million heat pumps, 3 million climate-friendly homes, renewable offshore wind power, crafting more walkable areas and improving public transit.

"It means loads more solar, load more wind, renewable hydrogen, it means jobs — career and family support," said Tyson Eckerle, senior adviser of clean infrastructure and mobility at the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development on Twitter.

While supported by the Environmental Defense Fund, NextGen Policy, the Yurok Tribe, the California Hydrogen Coalition and many others — some environmental groups feel that the plan panders to the fossil fuel industry.

"Carbon capture is a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry that allows companies to keep business as usual, and relying on it to improve emissions is ludicrous," stated Chirag Bhakta, California director at Food and Water Watch, in a press release. "The only way to truly lower California's emissions is to cut them at source, stop issuing fossil fuel permits immediately, and initiate a just transition away from fossil fuels."

The proposal does rely on some highly debated carbon reduction technologies, such as a removal practice where carbon is collected from smokestacks, transported to the Central Valley, then injected into rock formations. In addition, California currently allows big polluters to participate in a credit system, another controversial practice expected to become less prevalent under the new plan.

Regarding animal agriculture, the Golden State is home to one in five dairy cows — the number one agricultural source of greenhouse emissions. The proposal states that up to 420 projects may be needed to help the industry wrestle with its gas production. Among the projects are methane captures, fermentation processes and even "accelerating" demand for plant-based substitutes to help cut back the animal population.

The proposal will be voted on Dec. 15.

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