Selling the Benefits of AB 32

Well-timed would be one way to describe the pair of rosy forecasts from the state’s Air Resources Board today. For Californians beleaguered by the slumping economy, both reports were choc-a-bloc with good news. The only drawback is that we’ll have to wait a while for the payoff.

The ARB is the “lead agency” for implementing California’s comprehensive plan passed in 2006 to combat climate change, known affectionately as AB32. The primary objective is to get a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases statewide by 2020. The two reports released today attempt to gauge the long-term economic and public health benefits from fully implementing the plan.

Over time, the reports point to creation of more than 100,000  jobs and higher per capita income on the economic front. Estimated health benefits include fewer premature deaths (mostly related to heat waves) and asthma cases.

Some of the touted benefits are relatively small incremental improvements over programs already in place. For instance, ARB anticipates that by 2020, all the provisions of AB32 combined would mean 67 fewer hospital admissions per year (statewide) for respiratory conditions. That compares to the 770 admissions spared in 2020 that would result from existing air quality measures.