Final Scoping Plan identifies key role for carbon dioxide removal

Today, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its proposed 2022 Final Scoping Plan, providing a roadmap for how the state can achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

The Plan identifies a key role for technological carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Specifically, it identifies a need for 75 million tons of technological CDR delivered via a combination of direct air capture and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Table 1). This diversification of options includes a substantial increase in bioenergy potential to meet the state’s net-zero goals, which was a focus of CSG’s efforts in collaboration with researchers from UC Berkeley, LLNL, and Princeton, as well as numerous NGOs.

Table 1: This table shows how 75 Mt of technological CDR is needed for California to achieve net-zero by 2045. Note that, largely due to wildfire, Natural and Working Lands (NWLs) are expected to provide no/minimal CDR.

The Plan also shows improvement in the treatment of forest biomass. The initial draft identified very low residue estimates resulting from an expansion in wildfire mitigation of 5-6 million dry tons per year. The proposed final identifies estimates of 8-15 million tons of potential bioenergy feedstock from wood waste per year. This follows CARB staff adopting a number of modeling changes as identified by CSG. While the revised estimates are arguably still on the low end, they better reflect the scale of the task ahead and the clear need for new policies to manage waste biomass in the state.

Next steps

Between recent legislation and this final Scoping Plan, the state has laid a crucial foundation to support technological CDR deployment in California.

A key next step will be to make sure that these developments are reflected in other regulatory programs, such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Recent modeling suggests there may be a disconnect on waste biomass that needs to be addressed. 

Another key opportunity is for California to target becoming one of the Department of Energy’s four Regional DAC Hubs. A project with multiple CO2 sources, a large sequestration site and strong local and community support are three key factors.

Overall, we congratulate CARB staff and leadership on developing what is sure to be one of the most comprehensive net-zero climate plans in the world.

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