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Moving aggressively to ramp up the fight against climate change and help California’s most polluted communities, Governor Edmund (Jerry) Brown Jr. has passed the United State’s toughest restrictions on short lived climate pollutants (which he calls super pollutants), including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane.
"Cutting black carbon and other super pollutants is the critical next step in our program to combat climate change," said Governor Brown at a signing ceremony near a Long Beach playground bordered by oil refinery smokestacks. "This bill curbs these dangerous pollutants and thereby protects public health and slows climate change."
The bill (SB 1383) by Senator Ricardo Lara reduces the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and promotes renewable gas by requiring a 50 percent reduction in black carbon and 40 percent reduction in methane and hydrofluorocarbon from 2013 levels by 2030. Sources of these super pollutants include petroleum-based transportation fuels, agriculture, waste disposal and synthetic gases used in refrigeration, air conditioning and aerosol products.
"The Super Pollutants addressed in this bill - black carbon, methane, and HFC gases - are powerful climate forcers that have a profound effect on climate change and global warming," said Senator Lara. "They also have detrimental effects on public health. This bill represents a unique opportunity to balance our global vision for the future with a much more local and immediate perspective. With these bold and ambitious goals, we'll continue to set the standard for climate policy worldwide. And most importantly, those changes will be felt right here in California and reflected in the health of our children and future generations to come."
This bill curbs these dangerous pollutants and thereby protects public health and slows climate change.Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Short-lived Climate Pollutants have more potent heat-trapping effects but remain in the atmosphere for a shorter time than carbon dioxide. Reducing these pollutants can have a more immediate beneficial impact on climate change - and communities. Removing one ton of diesel black carbon from the atmosphere, for example, is equivalent to removing 1,000 to 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution. Worldwide, methane emissions alone are responsible for approximately 20 percent of current global warming.
"The policies that California is implementing, if achieved worldwide, would cut the expected rate of global warming in half by 2050, save millions of lives, avoid millions of tons of crop losses per year and slow dangerous climate feedbacks such as melting ice caps and rising sea levels," said San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography Distinguished Professor Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan. "The benefits of such a policy can far exceed the cost of enacting it."
California's ongoing efforts to improve air quality and address climate change have already led to important reductions in super pollutants, and have provided a strong foundation for today's legislation. SB 605 by Senator Lara, signed by Governor Brown in 2014, directed the California Air Resources Board to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing super pollutants, which ultimately included reduction targets now set forth in this legislation. During last year's Climate Week in New York, the Governor gave remarks at an event hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme, where he outlined goals for cutting super pollutants that are now codified by today's legislation.
One hundred and thirty-five jurisdictions representing 32 countries and six continents, or more than a quarter of the global economy, have signed or endorsed an agreement spearheaded by California to take actions to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius - the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. These Under2Coalition signatories seek to achieve these goals through a range of activities including reductions in short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon.
Many of the benefits of cutting super pollutants in California will accrue in the most disadvantaged parts of the state, where pollution levels and health impacts are often highest. Every $1 spent on cutting air pollution, particularly super pollutants, creates approximately $30 in public health benefit.
"Reducing short-lived pollutants is the right thing to do for public health and for environmental justice," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. "By taking on harmful super pollutants like black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, SB 1383 is another critical tool in our efforts to prevent and mitigate the dangerous effects of climate change. With this bill, California is once again leading the way for the nation and the world."
See the press release from Governor Brown’s Office.