CNGVC Calls for Greater Use of Low Carbon Transportation Fuels Today

In response to Governor Newsom’s legislative proposal to codify (put into statute) California’s 2045 carbon neutrality goal, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) issued the following statement urging the State Legislature to only approve the concept if it includes language that requires the immediate displacement of higher-emitting diesel trucks and investments to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon to carbon-negative transportation fuels like renewable natural gas (RNG).

August 19, 2022

TO:               California State Legislature
FROM:         California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition
RE:               Governor Newsom’s 2045 Carbon Neutrality Legislative Proposal

The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (CNGVC) concurs with Governor Newsom’s declaration that California is “in the midst of a climate crisis.”  However, the Governor’s legislative proposal to codify the state’s carbon neutrality goal by 2045 fails to include a near-term emissions reduction strategy, which is necessary to achieve deeper greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions sooner to avoid further devastating impacts of climate change. California can immediately accelerate GHG emission reductions by displacing diesel fuel today with the lowest carbon transportation fuels. 

Prioritizing greater reductions in Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP) like diesel soot (black carbon) and the uncontrolled release of methane, can help us reach carbon neutrality potentially sooner than planned. These accelerated reductions will benefit the climate fight right away to help avoid the most severe and irreversible impacts to the environment.  Climate scientists have emphatically declared that the only lever we have to bend the warming curve is the immediate reduction of SLCPs.  Focusing on carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions alone won’t achieve the international goal of stopping warming beyond the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold.

Therefore, if we have any hopes of reaching carbon neutrality, California must adopt a fuel-agnostic strategy that requires the immediate use and deployment of all available low-carbon renewable transportation fuel options, including the expanded deployment of renewable natural gas (RNG) fueled low NOx trucks which meet the lowest smog standards.

As Figure 1 illustrates, data released by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) shows that in 2021, the average carbon intensity of all the natural gas fuel reported under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) was -33.36 gCO2e/MJ.  This means that California’s natural gas trucks are the only carbon negative transportation option commercially available at scale today.  How can the state expect to implement an effective climate relief plan without utilizing the lowest carbon transportation fuel available?

This is why CNGVC, along with 10 Legislators and several environmental groups like Climate Resolve and the Coalition for Clean Air, supported the “Decarbonizing Transportation Fuels” budget request that focused on incentivizing the market to continue developing and using lower carbon transportation fuels – to help California reach its carbon neutrality goal sooner.  Therefore, in considering the Governor’s legislative carbon neutrality proposal, we urge the Legislature to:

  • Adopt the proposal ONLY IF it requires the immediate displacement of higher-emitting diesel trucks on the road today with the lowest renewable carbon fuel, as defined under the LCFS, and 
  • Use a significant remainder of our unprecedented budget surplus to provide incentives for the increased purchase, use and development of all low- to carbon-negative renewable transportation fuels.

A goal is simply that – a goal.  And, with most of our current climate policies exclusively focused on future goals that rely on accelerated technology improvements, expensive infrastructure development, unmastered grid reliance, and rapid consumer adoption, it makes sense for the Legislature to craft a near-term emission reduction plan that will deliver measurable results to combat climate change AND the harmful pollution Californians continue to breathe today. Greater low carbon fuel deployment is the solution for reaching carbon neutrality by 2045.

The statewide goal on carbon neutrality was initially established by then-Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. He signed Executive Order B-55-18 “to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible, and no later than 2045, and achieve and maintain net negative emissions thereafter.” 

You can download a copy of the CNGVC letter here.