PM2.5 co-benefits of climate change legislation part 1: California’s AB 32

Abstract

The Scoping Plan for compliance with California Assembly Bill 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006; AB 32) proposes a substantial reduction in 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all economic sectors through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other technological measures. Most of the AB 32 Scoping Plan measures will simultaneously reduce emissions of traditional criteria pollutants along with GHGs leading to a co-benefit of improved air quality in California. The present study quantifies the airborne particulate matter (PM2.5) co-benefits of AB 32 by comparing future air quality under a Business as Usual (BAU) scenario (without AB 32) to AB 32 implementation by sector. AB 32 measures were divided into five levels defined by sector as follows: 1) industrial sources, 2) electric utility and natural gas sources, 3) agricultural sources, 4) on-road mobile sources and 5) other mobile sources. Air quality throughout California was simulated using the UCD source-oriented air quality model during 12 days of severe air pollution and over 108 days of typical meteorology representing an annual average period in the year 2030 (10 years after the AB 32 adoption deadline). The net effect of all AB 32 measures reduced statewide primary PM and NOx emissions by ~1 % and ~15 %, respectively. Air quality simulations predict that these emissions reductions lower population-weighted PM2.5 concentrations by ~6 % for California. The South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) experienced the greatest reductions in PM2.5 concentrations due to the AB 32 transportation measures while the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) experiences the smallest reductions or even slight increases in PM2.5 concentrations due to the AB 32 measures that called for increased use of dairy biogas for electricity generation. The ~6 % reduction in PM2.5 exposure associated with AB 32 predicted in the current study reduced air pollution mortality in California by 6.2 %, avoiding 880 (560–1100) premature deaths per year for the conditions in 2030. The monetary benefit from this avoided mortality was estimated at $5.4B/yr with a weighted average benefit per tonne of $35 k/tonne ($23 k/tonne–$45 k/tonne) of PM, NOx, SOx, and NH3 emissions reduction.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the United States Environmental Agency under Grant No. RD-83184201. Although the research described in the article has been funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency it has not been subject to the Agency’s required peer and policy review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the reviews of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Kleeman.

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Zapata, C., Muller, N. & Kleeman, M.J. PM2.5 co-benefits of climate change legislation part 1: California’s AB 32. Climatic Change 117, 377–397 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-012-0545-y

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Keywords

  • Implementation Level
  • High Speed Rail
  • Renewable Portfolio Standard
  • Renewable Electricity Generation
  • California Energy Commission