Monday, December 2, 2013

New study finds California on track to meet 2020 GHG emissions target but will fall 2 to 5 times short of 2050 target with current policies

A report out this month from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that California's aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies will meet 2020 GHG emissions targets but not the more aggressive 2050 targets.  Here is the report's abstract:

A California Greenhouse Gas Inventory Spreadsheet (GHGIS) model was developed to explore the impact of combinations of state policies on state greenhouse gas (GHG) and regional criteria pollutant emissions. The model included representations of all GHG-emitting sectors of the California economy (including those outside the energy sector, such as high global warming potential gases, waste treatment, agriculture and forestry) in varying degrees of detail, and was carefully calibrated using available data and projections from multiple state agencies and other sources. Starting from basic drivers such as population, numbers of households, gross state product, numbers of vehicles, etc., the model calculated energy demands by type (various types of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels, electricity and hydrogen), and finally calculated emissions of GHGs and three criteria pollutants: reactive organic gases (ROG), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine (2.5 μm) particulate matter (PM2.5). Calculations were generally statewide, but in some sectors, criteria pollutants were also calculated for two regional air basins: the South Coast Air Basin (SCAB) and the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). Three scenarios were developed that attempt to model: (1) all committed policies, (2) additional, uncommitted policy targets and (3) potential technology and market futures. Each scenario received extensive input from state energy planning agencies, in particular the California Air Resources Board. Results indicate that all three scenarios are able to meet the 2020 statewide GHG targets, and by 2030, statewide GHG emissions range from between 208 and 396 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e/yr). However, none of the scenarios are able to meet the 2050 GHG target of 85 MtCO2e/yr, with emissions ranging from 188 to 444 MtCO2e/yr, so additional policies will need to be developed for California to meet this stringent future target.  A full sensitivity study of major scenario assumptions was also performed. In terms of criteria pollutants, targets were less well-defined, but while all three scenarios were able to make significant reductions in ROG, NOx and PM2.5 both statewide and in the two regional air basins, they may nonetheless fall short of what will be required by future federal standards. Specifically, in Scenario 1, regional NOx emissions are approximately three times the estimated targets for both 2023 and 2032, and in Scenarios 2 and 3, NOx emissions are approximately twice the estimated targets. Further work is required in this area, including detailed regional air quality modeling, in order to determine likely pathways for attaining these stringent targets.

Stephen R. Miller

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