California is leading the nation and much of the world in its ambitious efforts to reduce the carbon emissions that cause climate change.
But an economy built largely on burning carbon cannot be transformed overnight. That’s why we need tools to reduce carbon emissions while doing everything we can to phase them out.
One innovative technology that holds great promise is carbon dioxide capture, which captures carbon emissions and returns them to the earth before they can harm the atmosphere.
The California Air Resources Board’s draft Climate Change Scoping Plan, which serves as a roadmap for the state’s climate strategy, wisely includes carbon capture as one of the tools in that plan.
Carbon capture can remove more than 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by industrial sources, according to the MIT Energy Initiative, while also reducing other air pollutants.
California’s history as a national climate leader positions us to play an instrumental role as part of the national effort to scale safe carbon capture technologies and to reap the economic and climate benefits these actions can deliver at home .
We have dozens of industries in our state — including a number in our region — that are ideally positioned to use carbon capture to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These industries support thousands of good jobs for hardworking professionals in a range of economic sectors.
We have one of the most skilled workforces in the world that can be deployed to design, build and manage carbon capture projects across a range of industries that power our country, including refining, electricity, manufacturing, hydrogen production, cement and bioenergy. We are also home to some of the best geological storage capacity in the world for the safe and permanent underground capture of greenhouse gas emissions.
A recent analysis by the California Carbon Capture Coalition shows that building carbon capture projects to support California’s climate goals would create between 60,000 and 150,000 new jobs and preserve about 230,000 additional jobs for the Californians. These jobs can support a family and give our residents the dignity they deserve as we transition to a lower carbon economy of the future.
Carbon capture technologies can play a critical role in helping to minimize the costs of the state’s climate action plans, especially for the most vulnerable Californians. In the electricity sector alone, carbon capture could provide up to $750 million in annual energy cost savings compared to a scenario relying exclusively on renewables, according to the Energy Futures Initiative and Stanford University.
The task ahead of sharply reducing emissions is significant. A key part of this challenge will be to ensure that vital sectors of California’s economy, such as our industrial and energy sectors, have safe, environmentally sound, realistic and cost-effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Just as we have done to support the successful scaling of other clean energy technologies, the state must make a clear and strong policy and budget commitment to carbon capture as part of the plan to meet our climate goals.
As the California Air Resources Board works to finalize the scoping plan in the coming months, it is critical to ensure that it includes carbon capture as an important part of the strategy.
Senator Steve Glazer represents California’s 7th Senate District, including most of Contra Costa County and part of Alameda County. Ché Timmons is the business manager of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union 342.
Opinion: Carbon capture is a crucial tool in California’s climate plan