About the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649)
The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 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. This bill is authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and co-authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) with Senators Josh Becker (D-San Mateo), Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland), and Monique Limon (D-Santa Barbara). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center with co-sponsors the Carbon Cycle Institute, 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 an ambitious and achievable goal of sequestering an additional 60 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per 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.
AB 2649 calls for technical assistance, workforce development, and additional support for farmers, ranchers, and other natural resource managers to implement natural carbon sequestration at scale. The bill seeks to maximize ecological health and native biodiversity as well as prioritize policies and actions that benefit Native American tribes, low-income communities, disadvantaged communities, vulnerable communities, and disadvantaged farmers. It also calls for prioritizing policies and actions that:
- Enhance community health and resilience;
- Improve air and water quality and soil health; and
- Support climate adaptation and build climate resilience.
As affirmed by the latest report from the IPCC, limiting global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius dangerous threshold will require both dramatically cutting emissions and removing upwards of a trillion tons of past climate pollution from the atmosphere. Enacting the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act will be essential for California to achieve net-negative emissions as soon as possible.
While not a replacement for phasing out fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas pollution, natural carbon sequestration is the only proven solution that can safely and cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions with multiple co-benefits for our communities and nature. Fossil fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS), which operates at the smokestack, is sometimes conflated with atmospheric carbon removal solutions. Direct air capture (DAC) is a nascent technological form of carbon removal from the atmosphere that is energy-intensive, expensive, and not yet scalable.
By enacting the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022, California will scale up natural carbon accrual while improving water and food security, public health, environmental justice, climate resilience, and biodiversity. This is the kind of innovative climate leadership the nation and the world are expecting from California.