Bill to set California’s first statutory targets for natural carbon removal passes out of Assembly: Fights drought and heat waves

SACRAMENTO — By a 52-13 vote, the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act (AB 2649, C. Garcia) advanced out of the California State Assembly on Monday evening. AB 2649 aims to set California’s first-ever statutory targets for naturally removing past climate pollution from the atmosphere through soil and vegetation on natural, urban, and working lands. The bill now goes to the California State Senate.

“Passing the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act is vital to protecting public health in California’s frontline communities,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “Unlike engineered carbon capture methods proposed by fossil fuel corporations, natural carbon sequestration solutions like urban tree-planting, compost application, and agroforestry are ready to deploy, affordable, and environmentally just. In cities like the one I live in — which is surrounded by six freeways and has some of the worst air quality in the state — increasing urban tree canopies can help fight climate change, reduce pollution, and build resilience to life-threatening heat waves.”

AB 2649 was introduced by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and co-authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) with Senators Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) and Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center with co-sponsors the Carbon Cycle Institute and California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

A recent report from The Climate Center found that California’s working and urban lands have the potential to sequester up to 103 MMT of past climate pollution from the atmosphere per year. Adding sequestration on natural lands and waters, as AB 2649 does, further increases the potential for scalable, cost-effective, natural solutions. The bill sets a bold and achievable goal of sequestering an additional 60 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year by 2030, increasing to 75 MMT annually by 2035. For comparison, 60 MMT of CO2e is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas pollution from roughly 13 million passenger vehicles. 

“The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act can help California tackle several challenges at once,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “Natural carbon sequestration solutions improve water security, help slow the spread of wildfires, divert food waste from landfills and reduce methane emissions, and can even replace polluting agriculture techniques that endanger farmworkers and nearby communities. We look forward to continuing our work with the legislature to pass this bill and secure California as a global leader in natural carbon removal.” 

As affirmed by the latest report from the IPCC, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require both dramatically cutting emissions and removing upwards of a trillion tons of past climate pollution from the atmosphere. Only natural carbon removal can safely and cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions with multiple co-benefits for communities and nature. Despite this, the California Air Resources Board is proposing to gamble the state’s future on unproven, engineered carbon removal technologies that experts warn may never materialize

ENDS

Notes: 

The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649) fact sheet is available here and the full bill language here. A letter of support signed by more than 60 organizations is available here. Additional details on the differences between fossil fuel CCS, direct air capture, and natural carbon removal are available here. More information on natural carbon removal on working lands and its benefits for California can be found in The Climate Center’s report, Setting an Ambitious Sequestration Goal for California’s Working Lands.

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: ryan@theclimatecenter.org, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for an equitable, climate-safe future. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative. www.theclimatecenter.org 

Ryan Schleeter
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