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In new California climate initiative, bill will target key pollutants

In new California climate initiative, bill will target key pollutants
In 1955,downtown L.A. buildings are barely visible from 1st and Olive streets at the peak of heavy smog. Faintly visible from left are the Hall of Records, law building, new county law library and state building, with City Hall in background. (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

California would target certain harmful emissions under new legislation being introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara in an effort to boost public health while battling global warming.

Known as short-lived climate pollutants, the emissions include diesel exhaust and methane from agriculture. Focusing on these pollutants has been a key topic of conversation at the United Nations summit on climate change because they’re considered a way to make quick progress toward reducing greenhouse gases while providing a clear health benefit.

The legislation would set 2030 targets for reducing three pollutants to below 2013 levels -- methane by 40%; hydrofluorocarbon gases, which can be emitted from air conditioning or refrigerators, by 40%; and black carbon from human activity 50%.

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Lara (D-Bell Gardens) said he worked on the targets with the California Air Resources Board, which has been studying the issue.

"These are goals that are aggressive, and yet obtainable," he said. Lara said tackling the pollutants could help show progress against emissions that cause climate change, citing the example of his working-class mother.

"She may not have understand the Kyoto protocols," he said. "But she does understand asthma."

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation from Lara last year that directed the air board to develop a strategy for short-lived climate pollutants.

"I think it's very important we don't lose sight of how important, how beneficial, and how immediate this particular challenge and opportunity is," he said on Tuesday during an event at the climate summit here.

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