Governor Newsom announces $15 billion down payment for climate resilience, but more is needed

September 23, 2021 — Today, Governor Newsom announced a $15 billion climate package that includes nearly $4 billion for electric vehicles, $5 billion for drought management, and $1.5 billion for wildfires, forest management, and prescribed burns in the state of California.

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“We are grateful to Governor Newsom for investing $15 billion in climate programs over the next three years, furthering the work of the state legislature to make a historic down payment for climate resilience. We’re pleased to see investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, ecosystem conservation and restoration, and resilience to worsening extremes.

“But we’re already deep in a climate emergency, and health professionals around the world have made it clear that no rise in global temperatures is safe. Governor Newsom’s investment falls short of what science says is necessary for a climate-safe, healthy future for all. Investing even more today will save countless lives and dollars down the line. California has the know-how and technology to lead the world towards a climate-safe future. Governor Newsom, it’s time to stand up to oil and gas interests and put our state fully on the path to a 100% clean energy future as soon as possible.”

Earlier this week, The Climate Center sent a letter to the Newsom administration outlining detailed policy recommendations the governor should pursue in the lead up to COP26 in November. Following today’s announcement, we urge the governor to commit to:

  • No new oil and gas infrastructure permits.
  • Dramatic cuts in oil and gas production, with major investments in an equitable transition for oil and gas workers, their families, and their communities.
  • Health and safety buffer zones around existing oil and gas wells to protect the health of frontline communities.
  • Significant upgrades to our dangerously outdated electricity grid, with decentralized, clean, equitable power, and backup storage. This is what it will take to avoid further power outages, planned or unplanned. 
  • Increased investment in healthy soils and habitats to draw climate pollution out of the atmosphere, which also helps with food security, water supply, and clean air. 

ENDS

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: ryan@theclimatecenter.org, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative. www.theclimatecenter.org

UN calls climate change a ‘code red’ warning for humanity, business must be part of the solution

The head of the United Nations has a message for the rest of the world: act on climate change now or pay the price for years to come. In the midst of fires, drought, and extreme heat, we hardly need another report to tell us that the climate crisis poses a grave threat to California’s future. But that’s exactly what the UN’s latest IPCC report is, a “code red” warning. 

Scientists are clear that every bit of additional climate pollution matters and every fraction of a degree increase matters. There’s a big difference between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit of temperature increase that nations agreed to under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate scientist at UC San Diego, predicts that California will cross 1.5 degrees of warming as soon as 2027, ahead of most other parts of the world. That level of warming could lead to a potential “dustbowl” that would devastate our agricultural economy and threaten food security in Southern California and beyond.

But we’re not doomed to that future yet. California has the tools and the know-how to cut climate pollution and save lives, we just need the political will. Business leaders must be part of the movement to create that political will. 

The Golden State has long been a climate and clean energy innovator, and California businesses have taken a front seat. It should come as no surprise that the state that pioneered solar power is also a leader in electric vehicle design and has the highest electric vehicle adoption rate anywhere in the United States.

But as the IPCC report makes clear, government and business leaders have to do much, much more.

Although current technologies like solar power, clean energy storage, electric cars, heat pumps, and induction stove tops can go a long way towards reducing climate pollution at the scale needed, California needs to rapidly scale up these solutions. For businesses to truly lead the way to a climate-safe future, they have to support bold climate action both in the market and by engaging in public policy. 

One example is California company Guayaki, which makes beverage products using a South American leaf called yerba mate and sources many of its ingredients from the Amazon rainforest. Guayaki has not only set the ambitious goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 through conversion of its delivery fleet to electric and other measures, it intends to regenerate 2 million acres of rainforest by 2030. 

We have reached a point where businesses must go beyond improving the climate performance of their internal operations. Just as governments must dramatically ramp up bold climate policy, businesses must make a deeper commitment to programs and policies that protect the natural infrastructure on which our economy — and our lives — depend. 

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign is an opportunity for businesses who are truly committed to climate action to step up and be part of the solution. Climate-Safe California is a roadmap to making California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative, when we remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we emit. Not only that, it’s a plan for creating thousands of family-sustaining jobs and accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. The campaign has already garnered more than 1,300 endorsements from business leaders, members of Congress, activists, and individuals. 

But to make Climate-Safe California a reality — and to build a thriving clean energy economy for all — we need more leadership from the business community. Industry leaders demonstrated that kind of leadership when they implemented the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan addressing port pollution. This climate challenge isn’t just an ask, it’s an opportunity. Investing in climate solutions is an investment in our economy and in the bottom line, especially when compared to the mounting costs of climate inaction. 

California’s political and business leaders must work together to phase out fossil fuels, scale up natural climate solutions, and start seriously investing in community resilience. Join dozens of California businesses, from clean energy innovators to food suppliers, credit unions, and more, in endorsing Climate-Safe California today.

The California climate bills that passed — and failed — in 2021

With the crack of the gavel last Friday night, California’s 2021 legislative session came to a close. Overall, this was a lackluster year for climate action in the California legislature. The most ambitious climate bills — including a measure that would have set a net-negative emissions target, the most ambitious climate goal in the country — fell by the wayside. The state budget, however, does include significant investments into zero-emission transportation and allocations directed toward climate resilience, with the promise of additional funding in later years. But given this year’s record budget surplus, more should have been done to address the climate crisis. 

Even in the face of a “code red warning for humanity,” oil and gas corporations and their allies once again combined to derail climate action in California. California has the tools and know-how to lead the world in combating the climate crisis, but we need politicians who are willing to stand up to the oil and gas industry.

With that in mind, here are some important highlights from this year’s legislative session, as well as what to look out for in 2022. 

https://twitter.com/climatecampaign/status/1437468446015381507

Climate Targets and Timelines

The primary goal of The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign is to make California the first state in the nation to become carbon negative. That would mean we remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we release, which the latest science says is achievable by 2030. This year saw the introduction of two bills that focused on carbon targets, both of which were thwarted by oil and gas interests and their allies. The more ambitious of the two, SB 582 (Stern), would have made California the first state in the country with a net-negative emissions target. It also would have required an 80 percent reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

The Assembly also introduced its own climate targets bill, AB 1395 (Muratsuchi). Although it was not as ambitious as SB 582, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2045, AB 1395 was the last major climate bill standing at the end of session. The bill was again opposed by fossil fuel corporations and their allies, who succeeded in preventing the bill from passing off the Senate floor late on Friday night. 

Despite setbacks in the legislature, our efforts to educate policymakers about the latest science and the need to act are beginning to change the conversation. Following a briefing by The Climate Center and leading California-based climate scientists earlier this summer, Governor Newsom issued an executive order directing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to evaluate achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, a full decade faster than existing state policy requires. The fight to accelerate equitable climate action is certain to continue in 2022.   

Energy and Resilience

Decarbonizing the energy sector is critical to a climate-safe future. A variety of energy bills were introduced this year, most of which were once again obstructed by oil and gas interests. SB 99 (Dodd), a measure sponsored by The Climate Center that would have supported grants and technical assistance for local governments to do clean energy resilience planning, died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A bill that would have streamlined permitting for rooftop solar installations, SB 617 (Wiener), was stymied in the Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 612 (Portantino), a measure tackling unfair charges for community choice aggregation customers, was not even given a hearing in the Assembly policy committee. 

There is some good news, though. Two bills related to improving climate resilience in vulnerable communities — AB 1087 (Chiu) and AB 585 (L. Rivas) — stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but ideas from these bills were incorporated into the state budget. Hundreds of millions of dollars are now set aside to fund community resilience hubs and programs to mitigate the impacts of life-threatening heat. 

Phasing Out Oil and Gas

Despite clear calls from scientists to phase out polluting fossil fuels, attempts to rein in California’s oil and gas production met heavy resistance this year. One of the most ambitious bills introduced, SB 467 (Wiener), would have imposed public health setbacks on oil and gas extraction operations and prohibited fracking. It failed to get out of its first policy committee hearing due to intense pressure from the fossil fuel industry and state building trades unions. 

Two more modest but important bills did make it through to the governor’s desk. SB 47 (Limón) increased the amount of money a key regulatory agency, the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM), can spend on plugging abandoned oil and gas wells. AB 896 (Bennet) delegated additional authority to CalGEM to remediate idle oil and gas wells and expanded its ability to utilize tax liens to recover costs for the clean-up of idle wells. Both bills will help prevent pollution from abandoned wells and protect public health in frontline communities.

Transportation

The transportation sector, one of the largest climate polluters in California, saw mixed results in this year’s legislative session. Two companion bills, SB 726 (Lena Gonzalez) and AB 1389 (Reyes), would have required stronger coordination on zero-emission vehicle funding between state agencies and the modernization of a clean transportation grant program at the California Energy Commission. Both were put on pause this year in order to allow for time to negotiate the extension of a revenue stream for clean vehicle programs. 

In the wins column, SB 372 (Leyva) authorizes the creation of a program to make it easier for fleets that utilize medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to transition to zero-emission technologies. SB 500 (Min) will ensure that beginning in 2031, autonomous light-duty vehicles will receive permits from the DMV only if they are zero-emission. The biggest victory for zero-emission transportation, however, came in the budget, where $3.9 billion was allocated over three years.

Sequestration and Natural and Working Lands

There is tremendous potential to store carbon in California’s soils and habitats. But up until now, there’s been little investment or planning relating to these nature-based solutions. The passage of SB 27 (Skinner) will result in the state adopting its first-ever sequestration target, as well as developing a natural and working lands strategy and facilitating the development of sequestration projects that utilize natural and working lands. And while not focused on natural and working lands, SB 596 (Becker) is a critical measure tackling the highly polluting concrete manufacturing sector, requiring the state to adopt a strategy to decarbonize that market and to set emissions reduction targets for the sector. Both bills are on their way to the governor’s desk. 

Despite the successes of those two bills, several bills focused on natural and working lands did not make it through the process. AB 284 (R. Rivas), would have required CARB to update its 2022 Scoping Plan with goals for natural and working lands, as well as develop standardized methods to count emissions reductions associated with natural and working lands. This bill was put on pause on the Senate floor in the last days of the session. AB 125 (R. Rivas) would have put a $3 billion bond on the ballot, with the goal of funding a more climate-focused, resilient, and equitable food and farm system. It failed to clear its second policy committee hearing in the Assembly. 

California’s Budget

California had a record-shattering $75 billion budget surplus this year. Although there were some significant investments made, policymakers could have done far more to prioritize the climate crisis with a surplus of this size. Budget allocations were broken up into investment “packages” that will be spread across three years, with the allocations for future years requiring appropriations in future legislative sessions. 

The climate resilience package will see a total investment of $3.69 billion over three years, with $369.2 million allocated this year. This funding will go toward an array of programs, ranging from solutions to mitigate extreme heat to preparing for sea level rise. Another critical part of the resilience package is funding for nature-based solutions that will help safely store carbon in our natural and working lands. These programs will receive over half a billion dollars in the coming years. The Climate Center succeeded in helping to secure $25 million for resilience planning grants to local and regional governments as part of this fiscal year’s appropriation.

For its transportation package, the legislature allocated $2.7 billion this year toward zero-emission vehicles, with a strong focus on shifting trucks and buses to zero-emission technologies. These funds will also help in the deployment of the infrastructure needed to support the growth of the zero-emission vehicle population. In total, the transportation investment will reach $3.9 billion over three years.

The Road Ahead

While this was a disappointing legislative session, the conversation about how to act on climate is changing. The rapidly shifting realities of climate change — from catastrophic wildfires to simmering heat domes to unprecedented floods — are making the once-abstract warnings from scientists very real. 

Oil and gas interests continue to stand in the way of progress, but their hold on Sacramento is slipping. To erode their influence once and for all, we need to band together with our allies across the state to form a united movement in support of truly ambitious climate policies. It’s vital for each and every one of us to show legislators that we’ve got their backs when they stand up to the oil and gas industry. At the same time, we can send a message to legislators that are on the fence that we’ll stand with them when they take tough votes in favor of climate action. 

Thank you for your support this past year, and to everyone who took action for a climate-safe future for all. Be sure to check The Climate Center’s legislative tracker as we gear up to fight for bold, equitable climate policies in 2022.

Climate voters showed up for Governor Newsom, now it’s time for him to show up for us

It’s official: Governor Newsom has survived the recall attempt. 

Climate voters mobilized by the millions in this election. When we cast our ballots, we voted for action to address the wildfires, toxic smoke, drought, and intense heat waves that have wreaked havoc across California this summer. With the recall behind him, it’s up to Governor Newsom to deliver.

We showed up for the governor, now it’s time for him to show up for our communities. Send a message to Governor Newsom today urging him to embrace the most ambitious climate goal of any state in the country.

Californians spoke loud and clear in this election: we want a climate champion in the governor’s office. Governor Newsom has made some important moves on climate already in his career — such as banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — but he’s also left a lot on the table. As we face “code red for humanity,” we must accelerate the transition to a climate-safe future for everyone.

To truly restore California’s leadership on climate, Governor Newsom should immediately announce plans to:

🛢️ Phase out fossil fuels and prohibit new oil and gas projects;
🏙️ Invest in resilient communities for all Californians;
🌱 Scale up solutions to store carbon in soils and habitats; and
🔓 Unlock the billions of dollars needed each year to support climate action.

https://twitter.com/climatecampaign/status/1437997736045940740

Together, these actions can put California on the path to becoming carbon negative by 2030 while creating thousands of good jobs.

I’m so relieved to know that California won’t be swearing in a climate denier as governor next year. But just understanding the science isn’t enough — Governor Newsom needs to act. The California legislature has already adjourned for the year. That means all eyes are on Governor Newsom to lead the way for bold, equitable climate action. Please join me in making sure he keeps his promises to act on climate and stand up to the oil and gas industry.

California legislative session ends with a whimper – The Climate Center response

September 13, 2021 — Late Friday night, the California State Legislature adjourned for the remainder of the year. The close of the legislative session marked another year in which much-needed climate legislation was obstructed by fossil fuel corporations and their allies. 

In response, Ellie Cohen, CEO of climate and energy policy nonprofit The Climate Center, said:

“Even during a year in which Sacramento itself was shrouded in toxic wildfire smoke, California lawmakers failed to deliver breakthrough, equitable climate legislation. While we’re encouraged by the passage of key bills to support carbon sequestration in soils and habitats (SB 27, Skinner) as well as by investments in climate resilience included in the state’s budget, it’s not enough. California’s elected leaders have got to stand up to oil and gas interests and deliver more ambitious climate action in 2022. 

“People across the state are suffering from intense heat, drought, wildfires, and toxic smoke today, yet our elected leaders are still talking about climate action by 2045. We can and must move faster. Leaders in Sacramento should be working to make California the first state in the nation to become carbon negative, which the latest science says we can achieve by 2030 while creating thousands of family-sustaining jobs in clean energy. Next year, we expect to see state decision-makers begin to phase out oil and gas production, support an equitable transition for fossil fuel workers and their families, invest in clean and resilient energy, and embrace more ambitious climate targets. We look forward to helping them make that happen.”

A recent study by California-based scientists and climate experts suggested that net-negative emissions — removing more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we emit — is achievable by 2030 in California. That’s 15 years ahead of the state’s current goal to reach carbon neutrality. The Climate Center briefed lawmakers and Governor Newsom’s office on the study’s findings earlier this year, contributing to Newsom’s July directive to assess moving the state’s climate targets up a full decade. 

Despite the urgency of climate disasters and clear warnings from scientists, multiple climate bills stalled in the California Legislature this year. These included bills to fund community energy resilience programs, ban fracking, accelerate the state’s climate targets, and more. A detailed rundown of key climate bills introduced this year and their fate is available here

ENDS

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: ryan@theclimatecenter.org, (415) 342-2386

About The Climate Center: 

The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, starting in California. Our flagship Climate-Safe California campaign is a unique and comprehensive effort to make California the first state in the nation to reach carbon negative. www.theclimatecenter.org 

Vote for the climate in California’s recall election

California’s recall election is fast approaching, and we at The Climate Center want to make sure you have all the information you need to exercise your right to vote. The climate crisis is hitting California harder than scientists predicted even a few years ago, and we deserve leaders who share our vision for a Climate-Safe California. 

Make your plan to vote today! Register here and find out how you can cast your vote by mail or in person before September 14.

It’s hard to overstate the consequences of this election. The signs of climate crisis — wildfires, drought, extreme heat, and more — are all around us. We need to vote for the strongest possible climate leader on the ballot, then mobilize to push that person even further to be the climate champion California deserves. 

Here are a few key dates and deadlines to keep in mind:

  • August 30 is the last day to register to vote by mail. You can return your ballots by mail or at ballot drop-off locations (find yours here) up until September 14.
  • Early voting begins on September 11 and polling locations will be open from 8 am to 5 pm. Find your polling location here.
  • You can register and cast your vote on the same day in-person up to September 14. If you do same-day registration, you’ll vote with a conditional ballot that will be counted once your voter registration is processed and confirmed. 
  • On September 14, election day, voting locations will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you are in line by 8 pm, stay in line!

Let’s break down what’s on the ballot. The September 14 recall ballot will ask two questions: (1) Should Governor Newsom be removed from office? and, (2) If Governor Newsom is removed, who should replace him as governor? If more than 50 percent of voters vote “yes” on the first question, Governor Newsom will be removed and the candidate who receives the most votes on the second question will replace him, even if they don’t win a majority of votes. In other words, a minority of voters could determine who will be the next governor of California.

That’s why it’s so important to vote in this election, and to make sure your family and friends have a plan to vote. Our vote is our power, and our vote will decide the future of California. 

As a 501c3 nonprofit, The Climate Center is not permitted to support a particular candidate or recall outcome. On behalf of our team, I encourage you to carefully consider what’s at stake in this election and vote for the climate! Go to registertovote.ca.gov today and make your plan to vote.  

State of the State Protest in California

What the new UN climate science report means for California

This week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report with the latest consensus on climate science. The report warns that humans have “unequivocally” warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice, and land surface. It also provides further evidence of the links between climate change and extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, drought, record-breaking heat, and wildfires.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the implications of this report, but the good news is that we know what we need to do to equitably address the climate crisis. The solutions are at our fingertips, and current technologies can go a long way towards reducing climate pollution and drawing down carbon already in the atmosphere. But these solutions require political will and greater ambition from elected officials, especially in California. 

What the IPCC report makes clear is that the scale of the challenge is enormous and will require government action at all levels. As the fifth-largest economy in the world —endowed with enormous natural and human resources — California must show the world that investing in bold, equitable climate solutions and building a thriving economy can go hand-in-hand. 

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign provides a framework for equitably transitioning away from the fossil fuels responsible for the climate crisis, exactly what the IPCC is calling for.

Climate scientists are clear that every fraction of a degree matters. Allowing global temperatures to continue rising will exact a huge toll on human life, natural systems, and our economy. It’s also clear that there’s a big difference between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius, the upper limit that nations agreed to under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

For example, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees as opposed to 2 degrees would expose 420 million fewer people worldwide to extreme, life-threatening heatwaves. The difference between the two thresholds could also determine whether we cross critical tipping points, such as the melting of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, beyond which irreversible climate and ecological changes would take place.

Here’s what’s worrying. The latest IPCC report finds that we’re likely to cross the 1.5 degrees threshold much sooner than previously expected, and California may cross it sooner than the rest of the world. Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate scientist at UC San Diego, predicts that California will cross 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming between 2027 and 2034, leading to a potential “dustbowl.”

That scenario is dire, but it’s not a given. Climate-Safe California offers a roadmap to net-negative emissions in California by 2030. To get there, we need to not only stop emitting carbon pollution but also remove some of the carbon that we have put in the atmosphere. The IPCC recognizes that any route to staying at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius requires carbon dioxide removal. This is partly because some sectors are harder to decarbonize, like air travel, long haul trucking, and shipping. Climate-Safe California relies on nature-based strategies for carbon removal which are both proven and affordable compared with other alternatives.

Given the realities described by the IPCC, it’s clear that a massive investment in climate solutions is required. As California Senator Henry Stern recently said of the California legislature, “We are talking about a trillion-dollar problem and we are proposing billion-dollar solutions.” California must do more.

Recent research from Dr. Dan Kammen, Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and a number of other distinguished academics explains how California can equitably speed up climate action to avoid the bleak future the IPCC report paints for us. It lays out the broad policy pathways that we need to address the scale of this crisis and get to net-negative emissions. This includes getting to 100 percent clean electricity as soon as possible, electrifying the transportation and building sectors, investing in nature-based sequestration, targeting super pollutants (methane, black carbon soot, and hydrofluorocarbons), and prioritizing climate-friendly investments in low-income communities and communities of color.

Two of the authors of that report, Dr. Manuel Pastor and Dr. Daniel Kammen, put it this way:  “As California transitions away from fossil fuels, it’s up to us to ensure equity is baked into the clean energy economy, not just sprinkled on top.”

We have the tools and the know-how to prevent the worst possible impacts of the climate crisis and protect our communities. We just need the political will. 

IPCC warns of ‘unprecedented, irreversible’ climate change. Here’s what California can do.

August 9, 2021 — Today, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report, detailing the latest advances in climate science. The report warns that humans have “unequivocally” warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice, and land surface. It also provides further evidence of the links between climate change and extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and fires.

In response, leading scientists and climate advocates in California are calling on Governor Newsom and state leaders to accelerate equitable climate action.

“The IPCC report is dire and urgent, but it is not shocking,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center. “Scientists have known what’s causing climate change for decades, and we have a clear roadmap for how to navigate out of this crisis. Governor Newsom and California leaders need to phase out fossil fuels, scale up natural climate solutions, and start seriously investing in community resilience if we want any chance of turning this ship around. We have the tools and the knowledge to reduce emissions and save lives, we just need the political will.”

The IPCC’s recommendations for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius emphasize the need to transition the economy off of fossil fuels and invest in land restoration and soil carbon sequestration. With swift action from Sacramento, California has the potential to achieve net-negative emissions by 2030 while improving social equity, as outlined in the Climate-Safe California policy platform and this report.

“In the face of rising inequality and increasingly severe climate impacts, carbon neutral isn’t good enough,” said Dr. Daniel Kammen, Chair of the Energy Resources Group at UC Berkeley. “California needs to become carbon negative by 2030. Policies to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy will vastly reduce the amount of pollution we release each year. At the same time, scaling up nature-based carbon sequestration techniques and protecting vital ecosystems like forests and wetlands will begin to draw down some of the carbon already in the atmosphere. This is how we get to net-negative emissions by 2030.”

“As California transitions away from fossil fuels, it’s up to us to ensure equity is baked into the clean energy economy, not just sprinkled on top,” said Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director of the Equity Research Institute at the University of Southern California. “The ingredients are in place for California to prosper while propelling the world into the next phase of climate action and climate equity. We have the know-how, technology, and tools to stop California’s destructive climate trajectory, eliminate most of our air pollution in ten years, and deliver on the promise of climate inclusion. The question Californians face is whether we rise up and demand action from our leaders.”

ENDS

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: (415) 342-2386, ryan@theclimatecenter.org

About The Climate Center: 

Founded in 2001, The Climate Center is a climate and energy policy nonprofit working to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions at scale.

About Climate-Safe California: 

Climate-Safe California is a cutting-edge policy platform to address the climate crisis. It’s a unique and comprehensive campaign designed to bring California’s climate ambition in line with the latest science and catalyze similar efforts across the country.

Endorsed by more than 1,200 (and counting) elected officials, business leaders, and individuals, Climate-Safe California offers climate solutions at the speed and scale that science demands. It’s a set of policies that would allow California to remove more climate pollution from the atmosphere than we emit by 2030 while creating thousands of jobs and repairing environmental injustices.

Governor Newsom directs CARB to explore 2035 carbon neutrality pathways – The Climate Center response

Santa Rosa, California, July 12, 2021 — Late on Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to explore accelerated action to reduce climate pollution. CARB will model a pathway to carbon neutrality by 2035, ten years ahead of the state’s current goal, and the CPUC will establish a more ambitious emissions target for electricity procurement by 2030. 

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said: “This is a vital step in the right direction for Governor Newsom, and we applaud him. However, the science and climate reality demand we do even more. California is feeling the devastating impacts of drought, extreme heat, and wildfires today. Achieving carbon neutrality by the state’s current goal of 2045 is far too late.”

Last week, The Climate Center and 25 other leading California climate and environmental organizations sent a letter to CARB urging them to examine a wider range of accelerated climate action scenarios, including those that achieve carbon neutrality and net-negative emissions sooner than the state’s 2045 deadline. CARB is at the beginning of a months-long process to update its Scoping Plan, which determines pathways for California to reduce emissions and meet its climate goals. 

Ms. Cohen added: “We have the technology and know-how to equitably achieve carbon neutrality followed by net-negative emissions by 2030, but we must act soon. That is the only way to protect the health and safety of frontline communities, ensure water and food security for everyone, and protect wildlife. With climate change escalating faster than models projected, we urge Governor Newsom and CARB Chair Liane Randolph to plan for more ambitious, accelerated scenarios and align the state’s goals with the latest climate science.”

A recent study by California-based scientists and climate experts suggested that net-negative emissions by 2030 is achievable. The Climate Center — a statewide climate and energy policy nonprofit founded in 2001 — has identified a four-pronged approach to reaching net-negative emissions by 2030 in its Climate-Safe California campaign. Endorsed by more than 1,200 climate scientists, policymakers, businesses, and individuals, it calls for:

  • Accelerate the phaseout of fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) responsible for the vast majority of climate pollution; 
  • Scale up carbon sequestration solutions on natural and working lands through improved soil and habitat management;
  • Invest in resilient, equitable, climate and clean energy preparedness initiatives; and
  • Increase public funding for climate action to leverage much greater private investment. 

ENDS

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: ryan@theclimatecenter.org, (415) 342-2386

California’s budget surplus is a historic opportunity for climate-safe investments

We live in an extraordinary time for California’s budget. Despite previous predictions of a major COVID-induced deficit, the state instead is currently sitting on an unprecedented budget surplus to the tune of nearly $100 billion. This presents a massive opportunity to invest in climate resilience, clean energy, green jobs, and more.

The legislative budget process is an evolving, months-long, and often opaque process (learn about it in more detail here). Right now, we’re nearing the end of that process. In accordance with the state’s June 15 deadline, lawmakers voted to adopt a budget earlier this week. However, negotiations between the legislature and the governor are ongoing, and the state’s final budget won’t be revealed until later in the month. Typically by now, lawmakers are debating which pieces of the budget to cut, but that’s not the case with this year’s historic surplus. Instead, they’re debating where to invest

This year’s budget includes several items that we at The Climate Center are excited to see. Due to the enormity of the surplus and unresolved negotiations on the specifics of allocating funding, many of the key items of interest for The Climate Center are in the form of packages. 

Some of the packages to take note of include:

  • $1.2 billion for climate resilience 
  • $2.2 billion for zero-emission vehicles 
  • $835 million for clean energy

These are, without a doubt, historic investments. But there are more details to work out before we can get too excited. How these packages are implemented, how investments are directed, and who controls the money will all be hammered out through additional legislation called trailer bills. It’s vital that the money we invest in climate solutions be doled out equitably, that communities already enduring climate impacts get their fair share, and that we support oil and gas workers as we transition to renewable energy sources. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s one thing you can do today. Out of that $1.2 billion resilience package, The Climate Center and our members are pushing to secure funding for community energy resilience. With much of the state already experiencing extreme heat and grid operators warning about the need to curtail power usage, we need solutions that allow our communities to keep power going without relying on fossil-fueled generators. That’s what community energy resilience projects can do — take a moment to write your legislators about community energy resilience today

Finally, while this budget includes significant investments in climate programs, it still falls short of what we need to comprehensively address the climate crisis. The costs of waiting — more devastating fires, burdens on the healthcare system, and more — are so much higher than the costs of taking bold action today. We look at this year’s budget as a downpayment. California is beginning to invest in the kinds of programs that will stave off the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but this can’t be a one-time thing. Creating the safe, healthy, just future all Californians deserve requires sustained, significant investment from our leaders in Sacramento.