California’s new plan for carbon neutrality will make our lives radically different

More organic farming. Less driving. No more natural gas in new buildings. Electric off-road vehicles.

For the first time in five years, California regulators have released an ambitious plan for tackling climate change.

It shows how dramatically the state’s low-carbon push could alter our lives.

The 228-page document seeks to achieve carbon neutrality for California by 2045 and considers various scenarios to do this. Many of the improvements revolve around cleaning up the transportation sector (which accounts for 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions) and honing land-use methods that keep carbon in the ground.

The proposed measures could slow economic growth by roughly 1%, the report said.

Here is a sample of the more interesting strategies. (This list is by no means comprehensive.)

• Slashing the use of “fossil gas” in buildings — which includes ending the use of natural gas in new construction, and also “trimming back the existing gas infrastructure.”

• Ensuring that all passenger cars and trucks sold in the state will be emissions-free by 2035, along with as many off-road vehicles as feasible.

• Minimizing fossil fuel use for transportation by 2045. Most petroleum products by then would be for planes, boats and trains — not cars or trucks.

• Ending oil and gas drilling by 2045, a goal that is also stated in an executive order. Flaring of natural gas at oil wells must also end, the report says.

• Slashing the number of miles each person travels in their vehicles by at least 22% by 2045 compared to 2019.

• Reducing methane emissions from the livestock sector. Among the methods: encouraging Californians to eat plant- or cell-based products instead of meat.

• Doubling the amount of acres of cropland that are certified organic. Organic farming has climate benefits because it does not allow synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which release greenhouse gases. It also can improve soil health, which sequesters carbon.

• Restoring an immense amount of acreage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — 130,000 acres under one scenario. For context, a state-funded project in the works that will convert 1,200 acres will have taken 20 years and $63 million when it’s complete.

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