The history of climate change legislation and regulations in California dates as far back as 1988, when Assembly Bill 4420 (Sher) became law, and mandated the California Energy Commission to prepare a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory.  The most sweeping climate change legislation was enacted in 2006 – Assembly Bill 32 (Núñez), also known as the California Global Warming Solutions Act.  AB 32 mandated the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to formulate and implement a comprehensive GHG emissions reduction plan (referred to as the AB 32 Scoping Plan), including the development of regulations and a cap-and-trade auction, to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.  Since the passage of AB 32, climate change mitigation has been a main consideration in much of the resource-related legislation and regulations in California. 

Since the passage of AB 32, various state agencies have implemented regulations and programs in an attempt to meet the 2020 goals set forth in the legislation.  The strategies in the AB 32 Scoping Plan have spanned many different sectors including solid waste, agriculture, land use and transportation planning, forestry, fuels, vehicle emission standards, and large industrial operations such as refineries and cement manufacturers.  The State has completed a five-year update of the AB 32 Scoping Plan, and has also finalized the Safeguarding California plan to detail how the State will mitigate the effects climate change will have on California's communities and ecosystems.  RCRC was engaged throughout the update of the AB 32 Scoping Plan, and advocates for the interests of RCRC member counties throughout its implementation.

Climate change is also a major consideration in federal resources policy.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a policy statement on climate adaptation in June 2014, and released seventeen draft program and regional adaptation implementation plans for public comment in November 2013.  The adaptation plans have yet to be finalized, but will result in programmatic and policy shifts in various agencies including EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Climate change policy spans various areas of interest to California counties, particularly in rural communities where wildfire, water quality and supply, land use authority, solid waste issues, and agriculture are of major concern.  RCRC has been engaged in federal and state climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts since the passage of AB 32, and advocates for rural interests as additional regulations, programs, and strategies are adopted.

Staff:  Staci Heaton and Mary Pitto