California to Require Large Facilities to Report Greenhouse Emissions
Dec. 6, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a greenhouse
gas emissions limit for 2020 and adopted regulations requiring
mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases for large facilities.
Both items were required under AB32, California's climate change
legislation. AB32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of
2006, was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2006 and
requires that California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990
levels by 2020. The 1990 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level establishes the
actual number of tons of emissions that California is required to
reach. The board also adopted the state's first-ever rules and
requirements for the largest facilities in California to report their
annual greenhouse gas emissions.
"The items the board adopted are a clear demonstration that we
continue to meet our statutory deadlines under AB32. Thanks to
meticulous work by CARB staff, we now have a rock-solid calculation of
the total number of tons of greenhouse gases emitted by California in
1990 -- and a firm goal for us to reach by 2020," said Mary Nichols,
who heads CARB. "The mandatory reporting requirements are a crucial
part of the state's efforts to reach that goal. We are now giving
businesses and industry the clear guidance they need to calculate and
report their greenhouse gas emissions for their largest facilities."
1990 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory-2020 Emissions Limit
CARB's staff has spent the past year assembling an inventory of the
state's 1990 emissions using a variety of data sources, including
inputs related to fuel combustion, industrial processes and
agricultural practices. That figure is 427 million metric tons of
carbon dioxide equivalent. Preliminary estimates indicate that 2020
emission projections could be 600 million tons of carbon dioxide
equivalent if no actions are taken to reduce greenhouse gases. This
means that California must prevent 173 million tons of carbon dioxide
equivalent from being emitted by 2020 in order to meet the 1990 level
as required by AB32, officials said.
CARB staff used accepted international guidance to develop the
inventory and calculated the total emissions of six greenhouse gases,
including carbon dioxide (by far the largest single gas with 89 percent
of the total), methane, nitrous oxide and three gases used mainly in
industrial applications. Each greenhouse gas has a different global
warming potential, officials said. A ton of methane, for example, has
21 times the global warming potential as a ton of carbon dioxide. The
final figure of 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide was arrived
at by giving each gas its global warming potential weight.
CARB staff reviewed more than 10,000 separate calculations to arrive
at the total, and efforts included an eight-month review of a previous
inventory for 1990 levels developed by the California Energy Commission
in 2006. Major sectors, such as transportation, electrical power,
industry, petroleum refining, agriculture and forestry, included 270
sub-categories, each with its own data sources and subject-specific
The inventory revealed that in 1990 transportation, with 35 percent
of the state's total emissions, was the largest single sector, followed
by industrial emissions, 24 percent; imported electricity, 14 percent;
in-state electricity generation, 11 percent; residential use, 7
percent; agriculture, 5 percent; and commercial uses with 3 percent.
A series of early actions, tailpipe regulations and the development
of fuels with less carbon in them are estimated to provide reductions
totaling 66 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. CARB staff are
currently developing a scoping plan to develop programs and measures to
address the remaining 107 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in
order to reach the total of 173 million tons by 2020. That plan will be
submitted to the board in November 2008.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
The mandatory reporting regulations require annual reporting from
the largest facilities in the state, which officials said account for
94 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial and commercial
stationary sources in California. Transportation sources, which account
for 38 percent of California's total greenhouse gas emissions, are not
covered by these regulations but will continue to be tracked through
existing means. The standards and approaches to reporting were
developed in close consultation with the California Climate Action
Registry, as required by the law.
There are about 800 separate sources that fall under the new
reporting rules and include electricity generating facilities,
electricity retail providers and power marketers, oil refineries,
hydrogen plants, cement plants, cogeneration facilities and industrial
sources that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year
from on-site stationary source combustions such as large furnaces. This
last category includes a diverse range of facilities, such as food
processing, glass container manufacturers, oil and gas production and
mineral processing. Backup generators, schools and hospitals are
excluded from the requirements.
Affected facilities will begin tracking their emissions in 2008,
which will be reported beginning in 2009 with a phase-in process to
allow facilities to develop reporting systems and train personnel in
data collection. Emissions for 2008 may be based on best available
emission data. Beginning in 2010, however, emissions reports will be
more rigorous and will be subject to third-party verification.
Verification will take place annually or every three years, depending
on the type of facility. CARB also is developing a training and
accreditation plan for third-party verifiers.
For more information, contact CARB at http://www.arb.ca.gov.