California’s natural carbon removal bill AB 2649 passes out of two Senate committees

SACRAMENTO, June 29, 2022 — Today, the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act (AB 2649, C. Garcia) advanced out of the California State Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a vote of five to two. Earlier this month, the bill passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee with bipartisan support. 

AB 2649 aims to set California’s first-ever statutory targets for naturally removing past climate pollution from the atmosphere through soil and vegetation management on natural, urban, and working lands. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee and, if passed, to the Senate floor.

“I’m proud to be one step closer to passing the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act and protecting public health in California’s frontline communities,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “Unlike engineered carbon capture methods pushed by fossil fuel lobbyists, natural carbon sequestration solutions like urban tree-planting, agroforestry, and habitat restoration are cost-effective, scalable, and environmentally just. In communities like mine — where my neighbors are surrounded by freeways and exposed to some of the worst air pollution in California — increasing urban tree canopies can help fight climate change, clear the air, 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), Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), and Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center with co-sponsors Carbon Cycle Institute, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, and Pew Charitable Trusts

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 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 is designed to help California confront several crises at once,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “Natural carbon sequestration solutions not only remove past carbon pollution from the atmosphere, they also improve water security and make our crops more resilient to drought. We look forward to continuing our work with the legislature to pass this bill and make California the first state in the nation to set a target for natural carbon accrual.” 

As affirmed by the latest report from the IPCC, we must dramatically cut emissions and remove upwards of a trillion tons of past climate pollution from the atmosphere to secure a stable, livable climate. 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 full list of supporting 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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