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California advances critical bill to accelerate carbon capture

July 16, 2021 Work Area: Carbon Capture

Washington, July 16, 2021 – On Monday, the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee voted to advance AB 1395, The California Climate Crisis Act, “a positive step toward net-zero emissions that takes into account the critical role carbon capture and sequestration has to play,” according to Lee Beck International Director, Carbon Capture at Clean Air Task Force.  

The bill declares the state’s policy to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2045. Following the committee hearing, AB1395 will move on to the California Senate Appropriations Committee. 

AB1395 will, for the first time, codify California’s carbon neutrality goal that had previously only existed in Governor Brown’s Executive Order. It will also expand on the emission reduction goal by requiring at least 90% reduction of GHG emissions by 2045. As the committee’s analysis states, “[t]he continued acceleration of clean energy and carbon neutrality goals by cities, states and countries reflects the reality of observed climate change impacts, and the dire calls of climate scientists. California has long been…a leader on climate change, but has recently fallen behind on ambitious climate goals.”  

In the original draft, AB 1395 capped reductions from carbon capture to the final 10% of emissions. However, California’s projected reduction shortfall would have been three times the 10% cap. Additionally, specific numerical caps could create barriers to necessary innovation in the early stages of deployment of carbon capture solutions, ultimately limiting the options available to meeting the net-zero goal. CATF welcomes the amended language that removes this arbitrary limit on carbon capture. 

“This bill’s hearing represents real progress for carbon capture in California, and for climate action in general,” Beck continued. “Continued policy support will be essential to ensuring carbon capture projects can be developed at commercial scale, which – as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency clearly note, is critical to reducing emissions in hard-to-abate industries.” 

This development follows a recent report from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which estimated that California could face an emissions reduction shortfall of between 125 and 150 million metric tons, and that carbon removal can work to address this.  

This news comes along with positive momentum for carbon capture, removal, and storage on the federal level, where the SCALE Act and further provisions passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee. A separate recent report from Energy Futures Initiative underscored the need for policy support for carbon capture, and underlined the role the technology can play in emissions reductions across sectors. 

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