Dec. 18, 2017By Emily Rooney, Ag Council President

In a move further solidifying Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change legacy, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Climate Change Scoping Plan Update (Scoping Plan) on December 14, 2017. The Scoping Plan is important for the ag community because it is a roadmap to help Governor Jerry Brown’s administration consider new policy measures, regulations, planning efforts and investments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Why does the Scoping Plan exist, you ask?  Back in 2015, Governor Brown issued an executive order to establish an aggressive target for California to reduce GHG emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.  The 40 percent target is an interim step toward attaining an 80 percent GHG emissions reduction goal by 2050.  The GHG reduction targets were codified into law when the governor signed SB 32 (Pavley) in 2016.  Under a new law signed in 2017, AB 398 (E. Garcia), CARB is directed to update the Scoping Plan, which creates the game plan to reach those goals, by January 1, 2018.

The Scoping Plan is the result of a two-year process, including gathering input from a range of state agencies and impacted stakeholders.  Throughout the process, Ag Council has and continues to work on behalf of our members by providing public testimony, writing comment letters and holding one-on-one meetings with regulatory staff.  In our communication efforts, we convey the story of agriculture’s many achievements to reduce emissions and adopt on-farm conservation practices, as the Almond Alliance itself can attest to given its members’ accomplishments in these areas.

In communicating with state officials, Ag Council also reminds regulators to take into account all of the numerous climate programs and mandates farmers are already subject to in California. The final Scoping Plan recognizes that California agriculture is critical to global food security and the document cites the contributions agriculture makes to meet the state’s long-term goals for carbon sequestration, GHG reduction and climate change adaptation.

Moving forward, CARB is outlining concepts aimed at protecting, supporting and encouraging innovation in agriculture. CARB plans to:

* Develop and implement a strategy that includes maintaining agricultural lands as a net carbon sink;

* Measure, monitor and track progress to better quantify carbon stored; and

* Provide opportunities in the agricultural sector by improving manure management, boosting soil health, generating renewable power, electrifying operations, utilizing waste biomass, and increasing water, fertilizer and energy use efficiency to reduce emissions.

Achieving the ambitious goals laid out will require collaboration with and support from state and local agencies.  Ag Council is committed to working closely with CARB and other stakeholders on incentives and voluntary approaches for farmers and food processors to help agriculture remain competitive globally, while reducing emissions and sequestering carbon at the same time.

For questions regarding the Scoping Plan, please contact us at (916) 443-4887 or visit our website at www.agcouncil.org for further information.