What is the Scoping Plan?

The Scoping Plan is a sweeping document the state puts together every five years that lays out the most cost-effective and technologically feasible path for California to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals. The Scoping Plan process is a wide-ranging, multi-agency effort that touches all sectors of California’s economy, from agriculture to transportation to utilities to natural and working lands. The Scoping Plan doesn’t create any new laws or programs; rather, it’s a blueprint that agencies and legislators use. It is broad in terms of its scope, hence the name.

How did it start?

Back in 2006, the State Legislature passed a monumental bill that did two things. It created a comprehensive, multi-year program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. And it required CARB to develop a Scoping Plan to lay out a blueprint for California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

What a second, did you say CARB?

Yes. CARB is the California Air Resources Board. It’s the “clean air agency” in the government of California.

OK, but we’re past 2020. So what happened?

Great news! The state actually reached its emissions goals set out in the first Scoping Plan four years early in 2016, so in 2018 Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order for the 2022 Scoping Plan Update to outline how California will become carbon neutral by 2045.

What does carbon neutral mean?

Carbon neutrality means we are not emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than we are absorbing.

Why is this all important?

The goal of the Scoping Plan is to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, which will be a boon to fighting climate change. Achieving carbon neutrality will bring a number of transformative opportunities to California, including moving the state to decarbonizing the transportation and building sectors in a manner that supports growth and provides a path to a just transition towards a clean energy economy for all Californians. Many of the programs, regulations, and policies developed in the Final 2022 Scoping Plan will have far-reaching impacts on our state in the decades to come. 

So how do we make sure the Scoping Plan has the most aggressive approach?

Right now, CARB is currently holding workshops, and finalizing scientific modeling — and considering input from participants like California Environmental Voters — before it releases the first draft of its Scoping Plan later this spring. Then there will be different periods of public comments until CARB puts out the 2022 Updated Scoping Plan at the end of the year. We have our policy priorities and are working with coalition partners to amplify their priority issues. It’s up to us — California Environmental Voters, our partner organizations, and environmental champions like you — to keep the pressure on our state leaders to put together the boldest, most aggressive, most ambitious Scoping Plan possible.

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