Legislature needs to up its bet on state climate goals
With the passage of long-awaited federal climate legislation, California is poised to step up its climate action efforts. California has long led this country and the world in advancing clean energy legislation. Now is the time to up our game.
With less than two weeks until the legislative session, California leaders must act quickly to update our state’s climate policy framework.
California’s 2030 and 2050 pollution reduction goals of 40% and 80% respectively are insufficient to match what science now tells us is both necessary and possible for our state to reach. This is especially true now that the Inflation Reduction Act puts the entire United States on track to achieve roughly the same level of reduction. It’s time for us to accelerate our goals to 55% by 2030 and 90% by 2045.
Our goal of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2045, visionary and daring a few years ago, now appears almost outdated in its insufficiency. Let’s get to at least 90% by 2035 or before.
And California still doesn’t have a legally binding date to achieve carbon neutrality. Let’s do it now.
Clean energy production, however, is growing faster than ever. Our state has already produced, for a short period this spring, more than 100% of its electricity demand with renewable resources.
It’s high time to protect California communities from the damaging effects of oil production by ensuring that no oil drilling occurs within 3,200 feet of places where children, families and older Californians risk harm. to health and safety.
To protect our future, we need strong rules to ensure the safety of any carbon capture and storage operations that may go online.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently called on the Legislature to settle some of these unfinished business under California’s climate policy. The Legislature is still working on its response, but in the meantime, it’s critical that Californians join the call for our lawmakers to act quickly and think big.
To make it easier for people across the state to speak up, NextGen California, an organization I founded, has created a portal at GoBigOnClimate.com where Californians can have their voices heard. As the legislature progresses, this site will stay up to date with new ways to connect with lawmakers on climate concerns until the final hours of the legislative session, which ends at midnight on August 31.
Upping our climate game in California is essential to stem the tide of carbon pollution and also protect Californians who are facing real economic hardship.
Our elected officials have already taken a big step forward by committing a historic $54 billion in the state budget to accelerate clean energy growth and protect our state from extreme heat, drought, air pollution and other climatic effects. Proportionate to the size of California, the annual investment in this budget is nearly three times what the federal government proposed in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Thanks to rapid advances in technology, renewable energy is now the most affordable source of energy in the world.
By boosting our climate efforts in tandem with federal climate legislation and California’s climate budget, we can put clean energy to work to fight inflation, lower household energy costs, and create good jobs.
Californians understand. The climate crisis is a kitchen table issue in every region of the state, both due to the high costs of fossil fuel addiction and the onslaught of extreme weather disasters we face year after year. That’s why 84% of California Democrats and more than half of voters overall want immediate climate action from their elected officials — no more dithering and delays.
Time is running out for this to be done before the Legislature returns home at the end of the month – there is not a moment, or a dollar, to waste.
Tom Steyer is an investor, business leader, philanthropist and activist fully committed to the fight against the climate crisis.