A new draft of a scoping plan for meeting long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in California includes new greenhouse gas targets specifically for agriculture.

The scoping plan provides a roadmap for meeting required GHG reductions under Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) for eight key economic areas, including energy, transportation, water and agriculture. AB 32 was passed into law in 2006 and requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent (back to 1990 levels) by 2020, and even further (to 20 percent of 1990 levels) by the year 2050.

The three GHGs of concern in agriculture are carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4).

 

 

For the 2020 goal, agriculture was not expected to directly contribute to GHG reductions, but to reach the 2050 goal, the plan proposes that greenhouse gas targets be set specifically for agriculture.

Meeting Goals

That means programs will likely be developed for agriculture in areas the California Air Resources Board (ARB) expects GHG reductions can be achieved, such as reductions in N2O emissions from fertilizers, improved water-pumping efficiencies, methane capture from dairies and other sources. Yet to be seen is whether these reductions will be achieved by mandating particular practices, by providing incentives to integrate certain practices, or simply by taxing to encourage desired GHG reductions.

 

Want the latest agricultural news each day? Click here for the Western Farm Press Daily e-mail newsletter.

 

Over the next two years, an interagency panel, consisting of representatives from ARB, Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Department of Pesticide Regulation, Department of Water Resources and others, will determine both the goals and how those goals for agriculture should be met.

At the same time, ARB still wants to see agriculture provide offset credits to economic sectors that are regulated under the current cap-and-trade system. The offset credit system allows an individual who voluntarily reduces their greenhouse gas emissions in some way to then sell those credits to businesses that are required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.