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The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022: New bill introduced by The Climate Center and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia

SACRAMENTO, March 22, 2022 — Today, The Climate Center and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649). The bill 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 Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 is co-authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center and co-sponsored by the Carbon Cycle Institute and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

“Constant wildfires and severe drought are a daily reminder that we need bold, equitable climate action to protect the health of California’s frontline communities,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. “While carbon capture technology has captured the imagination of many, only natural solutions like urban tree-planting, composting, and agroforestry are readily available, cost-effective, and environmentally just. In an urban district like mine — which is choked by six freeways and has some of the worst air quality in the state — increasing urban tree canopies can help in our fight against climate change while also alleviating the air pollution and heat island effect that threatens my life and my neighbors’ lives.”

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 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. 

“Natural carbon removal solutions can help California navigate out of several crises at once,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center. “They improve water security and quality in the face of record-breaking drought, help slow the spread of wildfires, divert food waste from landfills and reduce methane emissions, and can even replace chemically-intensive agriculture techniques that pollute communities and endanger farmworkers. The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act is a critical step toward scaling practices that can help secure a climate-safe future in California and beyond.”

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 its current policy goal of carbon neutrality followed by net-negative emissions by 2045 or sooner. 

Only natural carbon removal can safely and cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions with multiple co-benefits for our communities and nature. Policymakers sometimes conflate fossil fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS), which operates at the smokestack, with atmospheric carbon removal solutions. Direct air capture is a nascent technological form of carbon removal from the atmosphere that is energy-intensive, expensive, and not yet scalable. 

ENDS

Notes: 

Take action in support of AB 2649 and see additional resources here. The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649) fact sheet is available here and full bill language here. The Climate Center recently hosted a briefing on natural versus technological carbon removal for reporters, the recording of which is available here. Additional details on the differences between fossil fuel CCS, direct air capture, and nature-based 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 recent 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. 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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