California Passes Carbon Sequestration Bill Expanding Natural Carbon Sinks

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The California State Senate passed a carbon sequestration bill, SB 27, on a vote of 34 – 4 that also won bipartisan approval in the State Assembly on a 75-0 vote. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the new bill on September 23rd that requires the state Natural Resources Agency to establish carbon sequestration goals for natural and working lands by July 2023. 

The policy will expand California’s CO2 sequestration capabilities with natural carbon sinks like soil carbon sequestration, grasslands, farmland, wetlands, forests, and other natural systems, along with technologies like direct air capture that mimic natural processes.

“Our natural and working lands are a common-sense tool in the fight against climate change…We need to put more carbon back into the ground, and SB 27 is a big step forward in achieving our state’s ambitious climate goals,” said Assemblymember Robert Rivas, who presented SB 27 in the Assembly.

Carbon Sequestration Bill Requirements

Under the legislation, the Natural Resources Agency has to create a registry of projects for public and private investment and track the sequestration benefits of each project. Those projects would not be eligible for carbon offsets under the state’s cap-and-trade program.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) also would need to establish a specific CO2 removal target for 2030 and beyond. The efforts aim to complement the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that targets the reduction of at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions below the 1990 level by 2030. 

It has been estimated that restoration and management activities on the state’s natural and working lands have the potential to cut emissions by 31 -147 million tons of CO2 equivalent by the end of this decade.

By establishing states’ climate change policy on CO2 sequestration goals, the country is not only securing improved land preservation but also resilience towards climate change impacts that could be devastating in the decades ahead. Political efforts combined with businesses and corporations making net zero commitments is an effective strategy for mitigating the climate crisis. 

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