Soil Health Institute, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Join NACSAA
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) have joined the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance.
As an independent, nonprofit organization charged with coordinating and supporting soil stewardship and advancing soil health, the SHI is focused on fundamental and applied research and ensuring its adoption. Institute leaders say they recognize that soil health must emerge as the cornerstone of land use management decisions throughout the world during the 21st century, because healthy soil is the foundation of life and society.
The institute’s most recent contribution to the development of soil health policy is the publication of a catalog that brings together the policy efforts undertaken by academic institutions, state agencies and legislative bodies across the nation (see following story).
The institute says enhancing soil health allows for the improvement of water quality, an increase in drought resilience, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the improvement of farm economies and the provision of pollinator habitat.
The institute aims to better position U.S. agriculture to feed the 9.7 billion people expected in the world by 2050. The SHI program is designed to move scientific knowledge and technology from the research laboratory to the farm field by bringing together traditional and non-traditional agricultural industry partners, farmers, ranchers, government agencies, scientists, and consumers to focus on one common, clear goal: protecting and enriching our soils.
The USFRA consists of more than 90 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. The alliance focuses on working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.
USFRA officials say their organization is committed to continuous improvement and supporting the efforts of U.S. farmers and ranchers to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.
The alliance’s goals include:
- Enhancing consumer trust in the U.S. food production system.
- Maintaining and enhancing the freedom of U.S. farmers and ranchers to operate in a responsible manner.
- Strengthening collaboration within the food production, processing and distribution systems.
The USFRA recently established the Sustainability Officers Council to provide food companies with access to the farmer and rancher perspective. Alliance leaders say the food industry makes new product claims, procurement and sourcing decisions daily to appease consumer demands, without consulting farmers and ranchers. As more companies shift sourcing decisions, citing sustainability goals at the heart of their efforts, the end result could be fundamental changes in farming structures.
The six-member council will participate in conversations with food companies and retailers, offering data, research and knowledge about modern agricultural practices on today’s farms and ranches.
To provide additional resources and information for food companies, and further showcase the sustainable farming and ranching practices taking place today, USFRA created a website at straighttalk.fooddialogues.com. The website is a valuable resource which includes the alliance’s Agriculture in America Sustainability Report, infographics, sustainability-focused videos and more.
Soil Health Policy Resources Now Available
Soil health policies are growing in number and importance across the United States but are widely dispersed across a variety of academic institutions, state agencies and legislative bodies. A Soil Health Institute catalog brings the policy efforts together to facilitate cross-pollination, learning and coordination.
Developed by the Soil Health Institute (SHI) Policy Action Team, the comprehensive online catalog of soil health policies aims to help agricultural leaders find action-focused resources quickly. The institute’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement.
“Sustainable solutions start with local and regional stakeholders communicating and making change,” said Jamie Fanous, graduate research assistant at Tufts University and member of the SHI Policy Action Team. “I hope this catalog will encourage local communication among academic, state agency and legislative stakeholders to improve soil health.”
The catalog is organized by the following components:
- Academic [education, research programs and resources]
- State Agency [grants, financial incentives and technical assistance]
- Legislative [summary of current bills, their purpose and status]
Contact information is provided to facilitate follow-up with the coordinating entity.
“This catalog serves as a very helpful resource for anyone interested in developing state-level soil health policies and programs, allowing them to learn and build from what others have already done,” added Rob Myers, SHI Policy Team co-chair and regional director for North Central USDA-Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (USDA-SARE).
“The sheer number of academic, agency and legislative efforts is a powerful display of the growing momentum of the soil health movement,” added Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute.
Among those providing leadership in developing the catalogue were Jamie Fanous and Timothy Griffin of Tufts University, and Rob Myers of USDA-SARE.
The Policy Action Team is seeking from stakeholders help in identifying additional academic programs, state agency efforts and legislative initiatives related to soil health. Suggested policy efforts can by submitted through a form available at the bottom of the institute’s catalogue web page.
The institute works with its stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.
To provide additional resources and information for food companies, and further showcase the sustainable farming and ranching practices taking place today, USFRA created a website at straighttalk.fooddialogues.com. The site is a valuable resource that includes our Agriculture in America Sustainability Report, infographics, sustainability-focused videos and more.
Purdue Univ Report: Successful Farming Depends on Our Climate
Indiana has long been one of the nation’s leaders in agricultural productivity. Favorable temperatures and precipitation help Indiana farmers generate over $31 billion worth of sales per year, making the state 11th in total agricultural products sold.
According to a report released this week by the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) at Purdue University, changes to the state’s climate over the coming decades, including increasing temperatures, changes in precipitation amounts and patterns, and rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air will result in several direct and indirect impacts to the state’s agricultural industry.
The report – Indiana’s Agriculture in a Changing Climate: A Report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment – describes how projected changes in the state’s climate will affect the health of livestock and poultry, growing season conditions for crops, the types of crops that can be planted, soil health and water quality as well as weed, pest and disease pressure for agricultural production statewide.
Significant takeaways from this report include:
Key finding: Warmer overnight temperatures in Indiana have contributed to reduced corn yields over the last decade. Elevated overnight temperatures increase plant respiration, reducing sugar availability for grain production, and it can affect the timing and success of pollination- resulting in lower crop yield. Observations show that Indiana corn yields are reduced by about 2 percent for every 1-degree F increase in overnight temperatures during July.
Coping with change: Earlier planting or using varieties that more quickly reach maturity could help corn plants avoid summer heat stress during pollination. Breeding corn for traits that improve factors contributing to yield in warmer conditions, may also help offset the effect of warming overnight temperatures.
Key finding: More frequent heat stress and a doubling of water deficits are expected to reduce Indiana corn yields, for current varieties, by 16 to 20 percent by mid-century. Soybean yields are expected to decline 9 to 11 percent.
Coping with change: Yield losses could be partially offset with changes in cropping systems, planting date, crop genetics, soil health, supplemental irrigation and/ or drainage management. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide may lessen yield losses in soybeans, and double-cropping of soybeans will become increasingly viable in southern Indiana.
Key finding: While Indiana’s frost-free season is expected to start about one month earlier by mid-century, average crop planting dates are not expected to significantly shift due to increased spring rainfall limiting early access to fields. Observations over the last 30 years show a declining number of days suitable for spring fieldwork in Indiana, and this trend is expected to continue.
Coping with change: Improving soil health with management practices that increase soil stability and water movement can help with managing additional spring rainfall. Fall-planted cereal crops that continue growing into early spring can aid in extracting excess soil water, potentially providing earlier field access. Investing in additional subsurface drainage and machinery suitable for wetter conditions may also improve field accessibility.
Key finding: The onset of winter dormancy in perennial trees and vine fruit, as signaled by the first killing frost, is projected to occur 10 days later in Indiana by mid-century. Warmer winter and spring temperatures will allow plants that have accumulated enough chilling hours to break dormancy up to 2 weeks earlier in the spring, meaning some fruit crops may begin flowering before the risk
of frost damage has ended. By mid-century, reduced chilling in some areas of Indiana may no longer meet the requirement for bud emergence for some varieties of apples, peaches and grapes.
Coping with change: Winter damage may be reduced, in part, by developing cultivars with improved dormancy that do not respond to brief winter and spring warm periods. A warming of Indiana’s coldest annual temperatures will expand the suitable range for peach, pluot and nectarine production and it may become possible to grow fruit that currently lacks hardiness for Indiana’s climate, like boysenberry and tayberry.
Key finding: Higher temperatures will put Indiana livestock at increased risk of heat stress, which can lead to reduced animal feed intake, productivity and fertility. By mid-century, the annual number of days with high temperatures above 86 degrees F, a critical threshold for livestock heat stress, is projected to double from 40 days per year to 80-100 days per year. The average duration of heat stress events is also expected to double.
Coping with change: Maintaining optimal micro-climates for confined feeding operations may require improved or expanded ventilation systems and increased energy, operating, and maintenance costs. Pasture-based systems may incur costs of additional shelters or other environmental buffers to protect animals from the increased frequency of weather extremes.
Key finding: Decreasing forage quality is a serious threat to Indiana livestock and poultry. Warmer temperatures will decrease plant protein content and increase neutral detergent fiber levels in certain legumes, including alfalfa, affecting animal growth and milk production. Variable winter conditions may also affect overall forage quantity.
Coping with change: Despite their climate sensitivity, C3-photosynthetic legumes still provide better quality forage than C4 grasses because the very high fiber, low intake and poor digestibility of C4 plants severely limit animal performance.
Key finding: Increasing winter and spring precipitation will result in about a 30 to 50 percent increase in spring subsurface tile drainflow in Indiana by mid-century. These shifts will likely lead to nutrient loss from farm fields, and some existing drains may be overwhelmed by the higher flows.
Coping with change: Implementing in-field and edge-of- field conservation practices can reduce nutrient losses. Capturing drainflow during the non-growing season could become more effective as the timing of peak drainflow is projected to occur earlier in the winter and spring. Increased use of winter cereal crops, like rye, that capture nutrients and transpire water may help with managing water-stressed fields.
Key finding: Warming temperatures have the potential to increase rates of soil organic matter decomposition in Indiana by about 50 percent by mid-century, which can reduce infiltration and soil water holding capacity and increase the release of carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases from the soil into the atmosphere.
Coping with change: Adopting management practices that improve overall soil quality, such as increasing plant diversity and use of cover crops and reduced/no- till systems, can help maintain soil organic matter even as temperatures warm.
Key finding: Warmer winters, wetter springs and hotter summers may result in increasing weed, pest and disease pressure on Indiana’s agricultural production. These indirect influences are complex, difficult to predict and can be positively or negatively affected by farm management decisions.
Coping with change: With no change to current cropping systems, producers of all crops will likely need to increase foliar pesticide and herbicide applications, increasing the risk of pesticide resistance. Pest disease damage may be reduced by selecting plant species with increased insect and disease resistance.
The findings presented in the report are based primarily on an IN CCIA Agriculture Working Group technical report, and the IN CCIA report Indiana’s Past and Future Climate.
Four Major Food Companies Launch Sustainable Food Policy Alliance
Four of the nation’s largest food companies have launched the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, an organization focused on driving progress in public policies that shape what people eat and how it impacts their health, communities and the planet, the latter including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Founding member companies include Danone North America; Mars, Incorporated; Nestlé USA; and Unilever United States.
The four founding member companies have already made broad updates to their portfolios in recent years, collectively and voluntarily advancing issues like sodium reduction, responsible marketing and transparency, and reducing their impact on the planet, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
As the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (Alliance), member companies will prioritize U.S. public policy advocacy and action in five key areas:
- Environment: Advocating for innovative, science-based solutions to take action against the costly impacts of climate change, build more resilient communities, promote renewable energy, and further develop sustainable agriculture systems.
- Consumer Transparency: Improving the quality and accessibility of information available to consumers about the food they purchase for themselves and their families.
- Food Safety: Ensuring the quality and safety of food products and the global supply chain.
- Nutrition: Developing and advocating for policies that help people make better-informed food choices that contribute to healthy eating while supporting sustainable environmental practices.
- People and Communities: Advancing policies that promote a strong, diverse, and healthy workplace and support the supply chain, including rural economies.
At launch, two important policy areas the Alliance intends to engage on include: nutrition labeling and carbon emissions.
The Alliance supports a comprehensive update of the definition of terms important for people, like “healthy,” including strong, science-based regulations on how these terms can be used on food packages and in marketing. The updates will help consumers make better choices for themselves and their families, the alliance said in a media release.
The Alliance will also work to advance climate policies that are impactful for the environment, while accounting for the specific business imperatives of supply chains, including farmers, ranchers, and other producers. This will include:
- Urging U.S. policymakers to ensure the Farm Bill and other farm policies reflect the pressing need to increase the scale of actions to address water quality and water conservation issues, focus on improving soil health, and expand the deployment of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. The Farm Bill should leverage all available tools, including research and public-private partnerships such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), to make smart investments in conservation and sustainability.
- Exploring the economics of sustainability, including financial incentives to reduce emissions and transition to low-carbon alternatives, with a particular focus on ways to create value for farmers, ranchers, and others who are implementing leading-edge practices to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- Advocating on behalf of smart, comprehensive energy and environmental policies at the state, national, and international levels, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Power Plan or other commitments that result in change necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with what evidence-based science says is necessary.
In a joint statement, Mariano Lozano, CEO, Danone North America; Tracey Massey, president, Mars Wrigley Confectionery Americas; Steve Presley, chairman and CEO, Nestlé USA; and Amanda Sourry, president, Unilever North America said:
“The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was founded on the principle that food companies can and should be doing more to lead and drive positive policy action for the people who buy and enjoy the foods and beverages we make, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely.
“As an Alliance, we commit first and foremost to leading by example. Each member company has independently proven a willingness to advocate for the long-term interests of the people who farm and supply our raw materials, and people who make and consume our products.
“We are committed to a collaborative approach and to listen and learn about issues affecting all parts of our food system from the field to the store shelf and beyond. We understand that we don’t have all the answers and will rely on the best available evidence-based science to inform our positions. We will be transparent about how we reach our decisions and what we hope to achieve.
“With so many pressing food policy opportunities on the horizon, now is the time to help steer America’s food policy and our food system on a better path for long-term success.”
Alliance leaders say they seek to accelerate the pace of change in the food industry through individual company leadership and collective support for public policies that raise the bar and inspire further action in this critical journey.
They also say that as representatives of some of the world’s best-known food companies, the firms “recognize our responsibility to drive positive change for the people who use our products, the people who supply them, and the planet on which we all rely.”
To learn more about the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, visit www.foodpolicyalliance.org.
FAO Offers CSA Sourcebook to Guide Policy Makers, Program Managers
A digitized sourcebook that offers a wide range of knowledge and expertise on the concept of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is among a series of products put out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in recent months.
The CSA sourcebook is a resource that can better guide policy makers, program managers, sectoral experts, academics, extensionists, as well as practitioners to make the agricultural sectors (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry) more sustainable and productive, while responding to the challenges of climate change and food security.
FAO published the first edition of the sourcebook in 2013, a few years after the concept of CSA was launched at the 2010 Hague Conference on Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change.
The new, fully revised digital platform edition of the CSA Sourcebook reflects new scientific insights, as well as valuable CSA implementation experience obtained since the publication of the first edition.
Five new modules were added: Climate change adaptation and mitigation; Integrated production systems; Supporting rural producers with knowledge of Climate-Smart Agriculture; The role of Gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture; and The theory of change for the CSA approach: a guide to evidence-based implementation at the country level.
Furthermore, the 18 existing modules were completely revised, restructured and updated in the three main sections of the Sourcebook: Concept, Production and Resources, and Enabling Frameworks. Similar to the process of creating the 2013 first edition, the update involved inputs from across FAO’s technical units, as well as numerous external partners and experts.
On the digital platform, the Sourcebook will become a “living” document in which any section or module can be updated when needed to reflect the evolving scientific insights and practical experience in CSA. Suggestions for resources to include can be sent to email@example.com.
The FAO also offers a CSA Sourcebook Summary Booklet, a printable version that provides an overview of the digital edition.
Also available is a printable three-page infographic that can serve to introduce potential stakeholders to the concept of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) The visual product includes the definition of CSA, the description of the three CSA pillars, and a graphic depicting the five actions for implementation.
The FAO says other products, which are expected to be launched at global climate conference in Poland this December 2018 (COP24), include a CSA video for policy makers, and five new CSA E-learning modules that are related to topics in the CSA Sourcebook Second Edition. The E-learning courses will cover several production areas, including soil and land management; integrated crop production; livestock; water management; and an introduction to CSA.
Also coming is a new compilation of successful CSA Case Studies published in a regional context.
‘America’s Pledge’ Outlines Agenda for U.S. State, City, Biz Climate Action
A road map for bottom-up action by businesses, cities and states across ten sectors to reduce U.S. carbon emissions has been released by the America’s Pledge initiative.
Opportunity Agenda offers collaborative strategies can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the near term, in the absence of federal government policy.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, America’s Pledge called for reductions in U.S. GHG emissions by 26-28 percent against a 2005 baseline by 2025. So far, the United States has reduced its emissions by 12 percent, leaving 14-16 percent to be achieved over the next eight years.
By contrast, the combined emissions from the sectors of the economy targeted by the road map account for 70 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide or equivalent GHG emissions, leaving robust untapped potential for real-economy, bottom up climate action to close the gap, the group says.
“Around the world, bottom-up climate action is making significant, tangible progress towards a global, low-carbon future,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “This is especially true at the local and regional levels because cities, states and businesses recognize the importance of enacting climate-friendly initiatives. This initiative will strengthen climate action and act as an example to other actors globally on what can and should be done to achieve our global the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.”
Co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and California Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr., the America’s Pledge initiative was formed in response to President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. It is committed to quantifying and reporting on how the actions of ambitious U.S. cities, states and businesses can compensate for federal inaction by addressing GHG emissions through high-impact policies and action in key sectors.
“While the federal government ignores the existential threat of climate change, people across America are stepping up to drive down greenhouse gas emissions,” Brown said “This is profoundly important.”
The ten high-impact opportunities outlined in the Opportunity Agenda are:
- Doubling down on renewable energy
- Accelerating retirement of coal power
- Retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency
- Electrifying building energy use
- Accelerating electric vehicle adoption
- Phasing out super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- Preventing methane leaks at the wellhead
- Reducing methane leaks in cities
- Reducing land sector carbon emissions and increasing terrestrial sequestration
- Establishing and expanding state and regional carbon markets
“Even as Washington has abdicated its role as a climate leader, American cities, states, businesses, and others are taking concrete actions that reduce emissions and benefit our health, economy, and environment,” said Bloomberg. “The America’s Pledge Opportunity Agenda is designed to help each of these groups expand their ambitions and accelerate their progress. And it shows the world that the American people remain committed to fulfilling our commitments under the Paris Agreement.”
Bottom-up climate progress has already taken the United States almost half way to its Paris pledge, and the pace of such progress continues to accelerate. The group says that since the first anniversary of President Trump’s announcement of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement – just six weeks ago – remarkable progress has been made, including the announced retirements of two coal-fired power plants, including one of Michigan’s most polluting plants; a planned $25 million solar project in Albuquerque, NM, to increase the city’s renewable consumption from 3 percent to 25 percent by this September; new legislation in New Jersey requiring utilities to procure 50 percent clean energy by 2030, and similar new policies in Virginia doubling renewable energy and tripling energy efficiency investments.
Today’s Opportunity Agenda previews a more complete analysis set to be released in September at the Global Climate Action Summit by America’s Pledge Co-Chairs Bloomberg and Brown, the group said. Each of the ten opportunity areas highlighted today will be analyzed in the 2018 U.S. Report on Bottom Up Climate Action, which will estimate the emissions reductions associated with specific, ambitious policies and actions that can be taken by U.S. cities, states and businesses in the near-term, without relying on the federal government. The September report will compare the impact of the measures to the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, which called for a reduction of emissions of at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.
California Climate Pollutants Fall Below 1990 Levels for First Time
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) says greenhouse gas pollution in the state fell below 1990 levels for the first time since emissions peaked in 2004 – an achievement roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year.
The findings show California exceeded the state’s 2020 emission-reduction goal four years ahead of schedule.
“California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “The next step is for California to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 – a heroic and very ambitious goal.”
Under Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, California was required to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels (431 million metric tons) by 2020. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today shows that California emitted 429 million metric tons of climate pollutants in 2016 – a drop of 12 million metric tons, or three percent, from 2015.
Senate Bill 32, signed in 2016, requires the state to go even further than AB 32 and cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious carbon goal in North America.
“In California we see the impacts of climate change all around us, but our efforts to curb its worst impacts are on track. We are well positioned to meet the challenge of the 2030 target,” said CARB Chair Mary Nichols. “This is great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change.”
The state’s annual emissions inventory helps keep the state accountable for meeting its emissions reduction targets. Highlights from the inventory published last month include:
- Carbon pollution dropped 13 percent statewide since a 2004 peak; meanwhile the economy grew 26 percent.
- Per capita emissions continue to be among the lowest in the country. They fell 23 percent from a peak of 14 metric tons per person (roughly equal to driving 34,000 miles) in 2001 to 10.8 metric tons per person in 2016 (roughly equal to driving 26,000 miles). That is approximately half as much as the national average.
- Carbon pollution dropped 3 percent between 2015 and 2016 – roughly equal to taking 2.4 million cars off the road or saving 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.
- The “carbon intensity” of California’s economy – the amount of carbon pollution emitted per $1 million of gross state product – dropped 38 percent since the 2001 peak and is now one-half the national average.
- California now produces twice as many goods and services for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the rest of the nation.
Electricity generation had the largest decline among the sectors. Emissions from the sector declined 18 percent in 2016, reflecting continued growth in renewable energy – such as solar, wind and geothermal – as a result of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, and a corresponding drop in natural gas generation. Solar electricity in all forms, including rooftop generation, grew 33 percent, while natural gas fell more than 15 percent.
State officials note that the carbon price signal created by California’s Cap-and-Trade Program makes fossil fuel generation more expensive, and cleaner, out-of-state electricity is increasingly taking the place of fuels such as coal. The influx included more imports of hydroelectric power from outside the state, which grew by nearly 39 percent in 2016 thanks to abundant rainfall throughout the West Coast.
“Emissions may vary from year-to-year depending on the weather and other factors,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “However, this inventory demonstrates that our policies are working to incentivize GHG-free energy sources and ensure the state remains on track to meet its climate targets in 2020 and beyond.”
The transportation sector, the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases, saw a 2-percent increase in emissions in 2016 because of increased fuel consumption. But the state also saw cars and trucks use a record amount of biofuels – 1.5 billion gallons in all – as a result of the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard. These low-carbon alternative fuels, consisting mostly of biodiesel, renewable diesel, and ethanol, avoided 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, compared to what would have happened if conventional fossil fuels had been used.
Emissions from the industrial sector – including refineries, oil and gas extraction, cement plants, and other stationary sources – fell 2 percent from 2015 levels, though emissions from refineries increased slightly.
In addition to the Renewable Fuels and the Cap-and-Trade programs, the state’s other primary programs initiatives for reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 are the Advanced Clean Cars Program and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Other programs, including the Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Strategy, the Sustainable Communities Strategy and the Sustainable Freight Action Plan, also address a variety of greenhouse gas sources.
The 2030 Scoping Plan, adopted by CARB last year, lays out how the initiatives work together to reduce greenhouse gases to achieve California’s 2030 target of 260 million metric tons and also to reduce smog-causing pollutants. This ambitious target will require California to more than double the rate at which it has been cutting climate-changing gases.
Future reductions will occur against a backdrop of natural sources of GHGs which are increasingly variable because of the climate change California is already witnessing. Those variables include drought, reduced snowmelt runoff and larger and hotter wildfires, any one of which can affect the state’s energy balance and emissions levels.