- California needs to “up our game” on tackling climate change, including by laying out a clear path to achieving its 2030 climate goals as well as carbon neutrality by 2045, Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, said in a letter to the California Air Resources Board on Friday.
- The letter, addressed to CARB Chair Liane Randolph, urged regulators to establish a planning goal of at least 20 GW of offshore wind by 2045, as well as aim to deploy 6 million heat pumps in homes and buildings by the end of the decade.
- CARB is putting together the 2022 update to its scoping plan, which charts the state’s pathway to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. However, the initial draft of the plan, released in May, has been met with criticism from climate advocates, who say it is overly dependent on carbon dioxide removal.
In a letter to CARB last month, more than 150 organizations voiced concerns about the agency’s draft scoping plan being inadequate. Newsom, in a statement, raised similar worries.
“The state’s draft carbon neutrality road map doesn’t go far enough or fast enough. That’s why I’m pushing state agencies to adopt more aggressive actions, from offshore wind to climate-friendly homes, and to make sure we never build another fossil fuel power plant in California again,” he said in a statement.
While CARB’s draft scoping plan calls for emissions reductions in all sectors of the economy, “we need to up our game,” Newsom wrote in the letter. Accordingly, he outlined multiple goals that he asked regulators to incorporate into the final plan, including a 20 GW planning goal for offshore wind by 2045.
State legislation requires the California Energy Commission to develop a strategic plan for siting offshore wind in federal waters off the state’s coast, as well as creating “planning goals” for the nascent industry.
California has some of the best offshore wind resources in the world, Newsom said in his letter.
“[I] am confident that this clean, domestic source of electricity can play an important role in meeting our state’s growing need for clean energy,” he added.
In addition, Newsom urged regulators to aim to build 3 million “climate-ready and climate-friendly” homes by 2030, along with deploying 6 million heat pumps across the state on that same timeframe. He also requested that state agencies “plan for an energy transition that avoids the need for new natural gas plants to meet our long-term energy goals while ensuring reliability and meeting growing demand for electricity.”
The governor’s letter is “great news” for California’s offshore wind industry, Adam Stern, executive director of Offshore Wind California, said in a statement.
“This is another sign California is serious about ‘going big’ on floating offshore wind, to drive economies of scale and realize the very substantial clean power, climate, and jobs benefits offshore wind can deliver for our state,” Stern said.
The letter is also a win for climate protection, utility customers and environmental justice communities, according to a blog post by Kiki Velez, Western Schneider fellow, and Merrian Borgeson, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Widespread heat pump adoption — when paired with rate reform, tenant protection, and other measures to reduce energy burden — can reduce electric utility bills, and the new targets send a clear signal of the need to halt unnecessary, costly gas infrastructure investments,” they wrote.
However, Newsom’s emphasis on advancing carbon removal technologies has drawn criticism from some environmental advocates. In his letter, the governor asked CARB to set a 20 million metric tons carbon removal target for 2030, increasing to 100 MMT by 2045, “given the need to accelerate development of natural and engineered carbon removal projects across the state.”
“Governor Newsom takes one step forward and two steps back with this letter,” Mark Schlosberg, acting California director for Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.
“Carbon capture is a favorite solution of the fossil fuel industry because it gives them license to keep business as usual. If Newsom really wants to ‘meet the moment’ of the climate crisis and exert California’s national climate leadership, he must instruct CARB to reject all false solutions like carbon capture and phase out fossil fuels by 2030,” Schlosberg added.