Governor Newsom reveals $32 billion climate investment package — The Climate Center response

SACRAMENTO — Today, Governor Newsom released his May budget revision — the “California Blueprint” — which outlines his administration’s plans for spending California’s $49 billion discretionary surplus. The plan includes $32 billion for climate initiatives over five years, including $16 billion to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, $8 billion for clean energy, $970 million for clean, distributed energy and storage projects, and $768 million for nature-based solutions. Yesterday, Governor Newsom announced that $18.1 billion will be set aside for economic stimulus measures, including a proposed $11.5 billion in tax refunds to vehicle owners, $1.4 billion in utility debt relief, and $750 million for free public transit.

The state’s final budget must be approved by the legislature by June 15. 

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“Governor Newsom’s $32 billion investment in climate action is historic and sorely needed. We appreciate the governor’s focus on supporting Californians struggling with rising energy costs, and applaud measures to relieve utility debt and provide free public transit. Still, we would have liked to see the governor’s gas tax relief package targeted to the communities that need it most as opposed to all vehicle owners. The best way to protect Californians from volatile oil and gas prices is to invest in an equitable shift to clean energy, electric vehicles, and sustainable mobility — not subsidize gas-powered cars.

“Economists have repeatedly found that investing in equitable climate action today will save billions if not trillions of dollars in the years to come. Our lives are on the line, and not just in California. Governor Newsom must do everything in his power to invest in a climate-safe future for all.”

The $32 billion for climate programs in the California Blueprint is a significant increase over the $22.5 billion proposed in the governor’s January budget framework. Together with the $15 billion committed in September 2021, California’s climate investments over the next five years now total $47 billion. 

In March, The Climate Center and the Microgrid Resources Coalition sent a letter to Governor Newsom and state lawmakers underscoring the need for a $1 billion investment in community energy resilience. Climate-driven power outages have already cost the state billions of dollars, leaving communities and small businesses vulnerable during extreme weather events. Now is the time for California to make serious investments in the development of locally-driven, community energy resilience strategies powered by clean generation technologies.

Vince Wiraatmadja, The Climate Center Government Affairs Manager, added:

“We applaud Governor Newsom’s major investments in distributed energy resources, specifically through incentives for residential solar and storage with strong support for lower-income communities. These investments are key to addressing the energy outages faced by the state and will help make a clean, distributed, reliable, and equitable Grid for the Future a reality. 

“To maximize the impact of these investments, we encourage the administration and the legislature to invest in planning grants so that our communities can take advantage of the full potential of all clean distributed energy resources, including zero-emission vehicles that can act as batteries on wheels. Additionally, we strongly encourage the administration to house this program at the California Energy Commission (CEC) rather than the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) due to the CEC’s expertise in deploying distributed energy resources.”

The governor’s budget revise comes as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is finalizing its 2022 Scoping Plan, a policy blueprint that will guide California’s climate and energy decisions for years to come. Experts and advocates have widely criticized the draft plan for its alarming lack of ambition, pointing out that Governor Newsom himself has directed CARB to accelerate the timeline for climate action in California. Despite this, CARB’s current draft delays achieving carbon neutrality to 2045, calls for new fossil fuel project development, and relies on expensive and unproven engineered carbon capture technologies.

ENDS

Notes: 

The full budget is available here

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Communications Director, The Climate Center: +1 (415) 342-2386, ryan@theclimatecenter.org 

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. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for an equitable, climate-safe future. 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 

Scientists and academics respond to draft California Air Resources Board Scoping Plan

LOS ANGELES — Scientists and academics from across California today joined advocates criticizing a plan released by the California Air Resources Board for reaching carbon neutrality, saying the plan is a setback for the state and the world. The Draft Scoping Plan makes no changes to the emission reduction targets adopted in 2017, despite Governor Newsom’s calls to action to accelerate ambition, and trades direct emissions reductions for risky and unproven carbon capture technologies pushed by the fossil fuel industry.  

“Scientists and the United Nations have made it clear that to maintain a livable planet and prevent unthinkable suffering, policymakers have a matter of months left to mobilize on a plan to dramatically wind down fossil fuel use,” said Daniel Kammen, chair of the Energy Resources Group and professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. “The California Air Resources Board cannot afford to fumble the ball this late in the game by moving forward with a risky, ineffective Scoping Plan that relies on a faulty pathway to neutrality, and that disregards Governor Newsom’s call to accelerate our ambition.”

In July 2021, Gov. Newsom stated that “science demands we do more,” and requested that CARB evaluate accelerating the state’s carbon neutrality targets. Advocates say CARB took an “all or nothing” approach when developing these scenarios rather than thoughtfully pairing low-risk, low-cost strategies to immediately reduce climate pollution. The scoping plan relies heavily on carbon capture, utilization and sequestration (CCUS), and direct air capture (DAC), two controversial, costly, and unproven technologies put forward by fossil fuel lobbyists. 

“By heeding the calls to invest in unproven carbon capture technologies, this proposal from the California Air Resources Board risks foregoing urgently needed air quality gains in frontline communities,” noted Manuel Pastor, director of the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute (ERI). “Instead of creating a pathway for the fossil fuel industry to continue to pollute, and then relying on technologies that may never materialize, we should invest in renewable energy technologies that cut air pollution and bring tangible benefits to communities that have too long been left behind and kept behind.” 

CARB’s recommended path — Scenario 3 — actually takes the state backward from existing policy by proposing to build 10 gigawatts of new gas generating capacity, equivalent to 33 new large gas plants. This does not keep pace with local, national, or international climate ambition. President Biden has called for a 50-55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and Los Angeles has committed to cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2025. The Scoping Plan commits to only 40 percent emissions reductions by 2030. The United Kingdom has targets to slash emissions by 68 percent by 2030 and 78 percent in 2035, and the European Union has committed to cutting carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030 across all sectors. 

“California sets the bar for climate action in the United States. If the California Air Resources Board votes to adopt a blueprint for combating climate change that fails to deliver on our state’s ambitious targets, it will be a step backward. California is on the front lines of the climate crisis. We need to see greater ambition and leadership on climate from CARB,” said Leah Stokes, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The California Air Resources Board will hold a hearing on the Draft Scoping Plan in June and is expected to release a final plan for adoption in late Fall 2022.

“The climate crisis is here and now, and later is too late for climate action,” added Professor Kammen. 

ENDS

Contacts:

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

Alexandra Nagy, Sunstone Strategies: (818) 633-086, alexandra@sunstonestrategies.org

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. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for an equitable, climate-safe future. 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

Protect Our Home

CARB’s latest climate proposal flouts scientists’ warnings: 2045 is too late

During an April 20 workshop, staff at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) recommended that the agency pursue a pathway to carbon neutrality by 2045, requiring little immediate action to reduce climate pollution. CARB must adopt a Final Scoping Plan before the end of 2022, which will determine the direction of California’s climate policy for the next several critical years.

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“2045 is simply too late. California can and must achieve carbon neutrality by at least 2035 in order to have a chance of securing a climate-safe future. We strongly urge CARB to heed the latest science and align with Governor Newsom’s calls to accelerate the state’s climate action timeline. 

“CARB’s all-out reliance on engineered carbon removal technologies promoted by oil and gas corporations is foolhardy and dangerous. CARB has also missed the opportunity to scale up natural carbon sequestration, with its many co-benefits for resilience, communities, and nature. In order to secure a stable climate, California needs to rapidly phase out fossil fuels — starting now — accelerate the transition to renewable energy, and invest in proven natural climate solutions. As goes California, so goes the world.”

In a letter sent to CARB on May 3, 2022, The Climate Center urged CARB to consider five key points as it updates the Scoping Plan:

  • The science calls for immediate and rapid emissions reductions;
  • The economic and social costs of inaction are far greater than the costs of investing in equitable climate solutions today;
  • CARB should be wary of failed carbon removal technologies promoted by oil and gas corporations; 
  • Natural carbon sequestration can play a greater role in helping California equitably reach net-negative emissions; and
  • Greater investment in renewable energy and distributed energy resources is a huge opportunity for job creation in California. 

Last July, Governor Newsom directed CARB to explore pathways to reaching carbon neutrality by 2035 or sooner. A 2021 study by California-based scientists and climate experts suggested that net-negative emissions by 2030 is achievable if the state can accelerate the transition to renewable energy, phase out oil and gas, and scale up natural carbon sequestration. 

ENDS

Notes: Additional comments on the Scoping Plan submitted to CARB can be found here

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. We are a think-tank, do-tank working to turn bold ideas into action for an equitable, climate-safe future. 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  

Bill to set nation’s first-ever targets for naturally removing past climate pollution passes out of California Assembly Natural Resources Committee

SACRAMENTO, April 26, 2022 — By a 7-3 vote, the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act (AB 2649) advanced out of the California Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Monday evening. AB 2649 aims to set California’s first-ever statutory targets for naturally removing past climate pollution from the atmosphere through soil and vegetation on natural, urban, and working lands. The bill moves next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where it will be heard in May. 

“Passing the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act is a critical step toward protecting the health of California’s frontline communities,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). “Unlike technological methods proposed by oil and gas corporations, natural carbon sequestration solutions like urban tree-planting, compost application, and agroforestry are readily available, cost-effective, and environmentally just. In an urban district like mine — which is choked by six freeways and has some of the worst air quality in the state — increasing urban tree canopies can help in our fight against climate change while also helping to alleviate the air pollution and heat island effect that threaten our health.”

AB 2649 was introduced by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and co-authored by Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), and Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center and co-sponsored by the Carbon Cycle Institute and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

A recent report from The Climate Center found that California’s working and urban lands have the potential to sequester up to 103 MMT of past climate pollution from the atmosphere per year. Adding sequestration on natural lands and waters, as AB 2649 does, further increases the potential for scalable, cost-effective, natural solutions. The bill sets a goal of sequestering an additional 60 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year by 2030, increasing to 75 MMT annually by 2035. For comparison, 60 MMT of CO2e is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas pollution from roughly 13 million passenger vehicles. 

“We thank the Assembly Natural Resources Committee for advancing this critical bill and look forward to working with members of the Appropriations Committee to continue moving forward,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act can help California navigate out of several crises at once. Natural carbon sequestration solutions improve water security as we combat prolonged drought, help slow the spread of wildfires, divert food waste from landfills and reduce methane emissions, and can even replace polluting agriculture techniques that endanger farmworkers and nearby communities.” 

As affirmed by the latest report from the IPCC, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require both dramatically cutting emissions and removing upwards of a trillion tons of past climate pollution from the atmosphere. Enacting the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act will be essential for California to achieve its current goal of carbon neutrality followed by net-negative emissions by 2045 or sooner. 

“The Assembly Natural Resources Committee’s action this week is critical to deepening the state’s leadership on climate change,” said the Carbon Cycle Institute Executive Director Torri Estrada. “AB 2649 identifies the critical actions needed for California to effectively engage our natural and working lands, building resilience to climate change and drought. In doing so, we can create the foundation for long-term economic viability and health in our state.”

Only natural carbon removal can safely and cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions with multiple co-benefits for our communities and nature. Policymakers sometimes conflate fossil fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS), which operates at the smokestack, with atmospheric carbon removal solutions. Direct air capture is a nascent technological form of carbon removal from the atmosphere that is energy-intensive, expensive, and not yet scalable. 

“Implementing conservation on natural and working lands is critical to the climate solution, said California Association of Resource Conservation Districts Executive Director Karen Buhr. “To fully implement, we need to support farmers, ranchers, and the resource conservation districts that provide them with technical assistance, support, and information. This bill is critical in getting that support to the ground so that the work can get done. Thank you to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee for your important decision.” 

ENDS

Notes: 

The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649) fact sheet is available here and the full bill language here. A letter of support signed by more than 60 organizations is available here; the letter was sent to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 19, 2022. The Climate Center recently hosted a briefing on natural versus technological carbon removal for reporters, the recording of which is available here. Additional details on the differences between fossil fuel CCS, direct air capture, and nature-based carbon removal are available here. More information on natural carbon removal on working lands and its benefits for California can be found in The Climate Center’s recent report, Setting an Ambitious Sequestration Goal for California’s Working Lands.

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 

Ellie Cohen CA Climate Policy Summit

Testimony: California urgently needs to set statutory goals for naturally removing carbon from the atmosphere

On April 25, 2022, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee voted 7-3 to advance the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act (AB 2649, C. Garcia). AB 2649 will make California the first state in the nation to set statutory goals for naturally removing past climate pollution from the atmosphere, while also making the state more resilient to heat extremes, drought, wildfires, and other climate impacts.

The following is a transcript of testimony given to the Committee by The Climate Center’s Ellie Cohen and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts’ Karen Buhr.

Testimony from Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center:

Good afternoon, Chair Rivas and committee members. My name is Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center. I am honored to testify in support of AB 2649, which will set in statute urgently needed state goals for naturally removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Recent UN climate science reports make it clear: the window of opportunity to secure a livable future is quickly closing. No temperature rise is safe.

According to the latest science, unless we act boldly today, California will be increasingly devastated by greater extremes, including severe heat and drought that already threaten our forests and will threaten the viability of many of our crops as early as 2027.

Per the science, we must cut fossil fuel use in half by 2030 and begin removing carbon pollution we’ve already put in our atmosphere to have a shot at securing a stable climate.

To remove legacy carbon pollution from the atmosphere, the state must scale up proven, cost-effective natural carbon sequestration practices like composting food waste and applying compost to soils, planting cover crops, greening urban areas and restoring habitats. These approaches produce win-win outcomes that increase water and food security, reduce pollution and heat impacts, protect farmworkers, create new jobs, and help us adapt to worsening climate impacts.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is sometimes confused with removing carbon from the atmosphere. CCS works at the smokestack or point source. It’s been used for decades and repeatedly found to be ineffective, expensive, and polluting, especially in frontline communities of color. And it’s almost always used to produce more fossil fuels, guaranteed to be emitted from end users’ smokestacks or tailpipes.

We also can’t rely on technological Direct Air Capture, which is still in its infancy and not yet scalable.

Only natural carbon removal — which is proven, environmentally sound, and just — can cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions at scale starting this decade with multiple co-benefits for our communities, environment, and economy.

AB 2649 is supported by 66 organizations. We urge you to vote yes on the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act, an essential step toward securing a vibrant, healthy, climate-safe future for all.

Testimony from Karen Buhr, Executive Director, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts:

Thanks for your time in hearing this important bill. There are 95 Resource Conservation Districts (RCD) in California that sit at the intersection of natural resource conservation and resilience, agriculture, private landowners, and community.

RCDs provide on-the-ground support to communities and community members that are trying to implement climate-smart practices and build resilience to the impact of climate change, including support to farmers and ranchers implementing soil health and climate-smart practices, wetland restoration projects, protecting native species, and recovering their habitats, and helping landowners in forested areas maintain their properties for forest health and fire safety.

While there are many natural and working lands practices that help sequester carbon, I am going to focus on a set of climate-smart agricultural practices that sequester carbon in soils. Cover cropping, no-till, reduced-till, mulching, compost application, and conservation plantings all can increase the ability of soils to sequester additional carbon. Further, in many cases, these practices can actually save farmers and ranchers money in irrigation costs, fertilizer inputs, tilling costs, and pesticide applications. Not to mention the multiple benefits to the environment that come from reducing those inputs.

RCDs with their partners at the Carbon Cycle Institute and Natural Resource Conservation Service have helped to create a carbon farm plan process that guides farmers and ranchers through specific practices that can sequester carbon and reduce environmental impact in a quantifiable way. These plans tell farmers how much carbon they can sequester with each practice and the environmental impact of making those changes. Then they make an educated decision about practice changes. Over the last 5 years, the RCDs have been training farmers, generating interest in and writing Carbon Farm Plans.

RCDs across the State have completed plans for 137 farmers and ranchers covering 71,440 total acres that, at full implementation, will sequester 1.8 million (1,793,029.30) tons of CO2e (at year 20). The RCDs have 100 plans in progress, and a long waitlist of producers ready to participate.

Once the farmer or rancher decides to implement a new practice, they need help in knowing how to apply that practice to their specific property, have questions about maintaining the productivity of their crop, and want to be walked through the application. If things don’t go as expected, they need someone to help guide them in making adjustments. RCDs are there to help guide them through each step so that practices can be implemented effectively, but technical support is underfunded and under-available.

By setting an ambitious goal for natural carbon sequestration, AB 2649 would help incentivize and encourage the implementation of practices and would support RCDs and other entities that help farmers, ranchers, and communities across the state in being able to provide effective support in implementing practices. AB 2649 will push the state forward in our fight against climate change and build resilience to its impacts while providing a number of co-benefits for the environment and communities.

For all of these reasons, CARCD on behalf of our member districts urges an aye vote on AB 2649.

healthy soils

The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022: New bill introduced by The Climate Center and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia

SACRAMENTO, March 22, 2022 — Today, The Climate Center and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649). The bill aims to set California’s first-ever statutory targets for naturally removing past climate pollution from the atmosphere through soil and vegetation on natural, urban, and working lands. 

The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 is co-authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo). It’s sponsored by The Climate Center and co-sponsored by the Carbon Cycle Institute and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

“Constant wildfires and severe drought are a daily reminder that we need bold, equitable climate action to protect the health of California’s frontline communities,” said Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. “While carbon capture technology has captured the imagination of many, only natural solutions like urban tree-planting, composting, and agroforestry are readily available, cost-effective, and environmentally just. In an urban district like mine — which is choked by six freeways and has some of the worst air quality in the state — increasing urban tree canopies can help in our fight against climate change while also alleviating the air pollution and heat island effect that threatens my life and my neighbors’ lives.”

A recent report from The Climate Center found that California’s working and urban lands have the potential to sequester up to 103 MMT of past climate pollution from the atmosphere per year. Adding sequestration on natural lands and waters, as AB 2649 does, further increases the potential for scalable, cost-effective, natural solutions. The bill sets a goal of sequestering an additional 60 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year by 2030, increasing to 75 MMT annually by 2035. For comparison, 60 MMT of CO2e is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas pollution from roughly 13 million passenger vehicles. 

“Natural carbon removal solutions can help California navigate out of several crises at once,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center. “They improve water security and quality in the face of record-breaking drought, help slow the spread of wildfires, divert food waste from landfills and reduce methane emissions, and can even replace chemically-intensive agriculture techniques that pollute communities and endanger farmworkers. The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act is a critical step toward scaling practices that can help secure a climate-safe future in California and beyond.”

As affirmed by the latest report from the IPCC, limiting global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius dangerous threshold will require both dramatically cutting emissions and removing upwards of a trillion tons of past climate pollution from the atmosphere. Enacting the Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act will be essential for California to achieve its current policy goal of carbon neutrality followed by net-negative emissions by 2045 or sooner. 

Only natural carbon removal can safely and cost-effectively draw down past carbon emissions with multiple co-benefits for our communities and nature. Policymakers sometimes conflate fossil fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS), which operates at the smokestack, with atmospheric carbon removal solutions. Direct air capture is a nascent technological form of carbon removal from the atmosphere that is energy-intensive, expensive, and not yet scalable. 

ENDS

Notes: 

Take action in support of AB 2649 and see additional resources here. The Natural Carbon Sequestration and Resilience Act of 2022 (AB 2649) fact sheet is available here and full bill language here. The Climate Center recently hosted a briefing on natural versus technological carbon removal for reporters, the recording of which is available here. Additional details on the differences between fossil fuel CCS, direct air capture, and nature-based carbon removal are available here. More information on natural carbon removal on working lands and its benefits for California can be found in The Climate Center’s recent report, Setting an Ambitious Sequestration Goal for California’s Working Lands.

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 

‘We need to be fighting polluters’ – Governor Newsom outlines climate vision in State of the State address

SACRAMENTO, March 8, 2022 — Today, Governor Gavin Newsom gave his annual State of the State address before legislators in Sacramento. In his speech, the governor spoke of the need to confront corporate polluters, build on California’s historic leadership on clean energy technologies, and once again outlined a broad vision for ending the era of oil drilling.

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“California has fallen behind on climate action because oil and gas interests have a stranglehold in Sacramento. For Governor Newsom to restore California’s global climate leadership, he and the entire legislature need to consistently listen to people over fossil fuel lobbyists. We applaud the governor’s emphasis on reigning in corporate polluters and transitioning to a clean energy economy. Now, it’s time for him to turn that vision of a fossil-free California into concrete action.

“Pursuing proven, equitable climate solutions today will save countless lives and dollars down the line. We urge Governor Newsom to use his executive powers to halt all new oil and gas infrastructure permits and invest in a just transition for impacted workers and communities. We also hope he will see through greenwashed oil and gas industry PR spin and reject false solutions that lock in more fossil fuel pollution. Finally, we urge the governor to transform our state’s electricity system to meet the challenges of the 21st century by investing even more in clean, resilient, locally-developed energy resources. 

“California has set a climate example for the rest of the world in the past and we have the tools and know-how to raise the bar again. Governor Newsom must do everything in his power to lead the way to a climate-safe future for all.”

While he did not detail any new policy proposals in tonight’s address, this marks the second major speech this year in which Governor Newsom has alluded to an oil-free future for California. 

In January, Governor Newsom introduced the California Blueprint, the first draft of his administration’s plan for spending California’s $45.7 billion budget surplus. The budget includes $22.5 billion for climate programs over five years, including $6 billion to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, $9 billion for other low-carbon transportation initiatives, $2 billion for clean energy infrastructure, as well as investments in community resilience, housing, green job creation, and more. 

There are dozens of bills in front of the California legislature related to clean energy, fossil fuel divestment, extreme heat, and more. Details on key climate-related bills before the Senate and Assembly are 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 

Sheep grazing agriculture working lands sequestration

ADVISORY: Media briefing on natural carbon removal solutions and California policy

March 4, 2022 — Every scenario in which we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris agreement, involves dramatically cutting emissions and removing existing carbon pollution from the atmosphere. In order to achieve the latter, California policymakers are considering a wide variety of potential solutions, ranging from natural carbon removal solutions to technological methods like carbon capture and storage (CCS) favored by the fossil fuel industry.

The potential climate benefits of nature-based solutions and technological drawdown methods are, however, vastly different, as are the implications for environmental justice and frontline communities. This briefing is for reporters looking to gain a deeper understanding of how natural carbon removal methods — also called nature-based solutions — can advance climate and environmental justice in California. It will explore:

  • The costs of implementing nature-based carbon sequestration solutions at scale compared to technological drawdown methods;
  • Perspectives from environmental justice communities;
  • Co-benefits of nature-based solutions, including water security, wildfire resilience, and cleaner air; 
  • How efforts to sequester carbon can complement policies to reduce emissions and pollution; and
  • New state legislation related to natural carbon removal targets.

This briefing is scheduled for one hour, with the majority of time dedicated to Q&A. This event will be recorded and made available for future reference.

Who: This event is open to all reporters interested in learning more about natural carbon removal solutions and relevant California policy. 

Experts joining the briefing are:

When: March 16, 2022, 11am – 12pm PST.

Where: Virtual (Zoom). Register here

Additional resources: A recent report from The Climate Center found that California’s working and urban lands have the potential to sequester up to 100 MMT of CO2e per year, equivalent to roughly one-quarter of the state’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions. The report details how proven techniques like compost application, agroforestry, and urban tree planting can not only draw down carbon, but also improve water security, reduce air pollution and extreme heat impacts, and enhance crop resilience to extreme weather.

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 

Gavin Newsom by Charlie Kaijo

Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes $22.5 billion for climate over five years, more is needed

SACRAMENTO — Today, Governor Newsom unveiled the California Blueprint, the first draft of his administration’s plans for spending California’s $45.7 billion budget surplus. The budget includes $22.5 billion for climate programs over five years, including $6 billion to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, $9 billion for other low-carbon transportation initiatives, $2 billion for clean energy infrastructure, as well as investments in community resilience, housing, green job creation, and more. 

In response, The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen said:

“We applaud Governor Newsom for proposing $22.5 billion to invest in climate programs over the next five years. We’re particularly pleased to see the governor’s focus on decarbonizing the energy, industrial, and transportation sectors while enhancing energy resilience. We commend the emphasis on prioritizing vulnerable communities that suffer the most from air pollution, extreme heat, and power outages. Finally, we welcome the governor’s attention toward natural climate solutions to increase climate resilience and prepare communities for worsening climate impacts.

“However, much more is needed to advance solutions at the speed and scale science demands.

“California is already in the throes of climate emergency and our own elected officials acknowledge that we’ve fallen behind the rest of the world in addressing climate pollution. Much greater investments are needed sooner to save lives and dollars. For example, investing significantly more in clean, safe, resilient, locally-developed energy resources will save countless lives and dollars down the line. We urge Governor Newsom to commit $1 billion in targeted investments toward community energy resilience planning and project development to keep the power on 24/7 in the face of growing extremes.”

In September, the Newsom administration committed a historic $15 billion to climate programs, including $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. The majority of these investments are focused on adapting to climate impacts rather than efforts to cut greenhouse gas pollution. As one recent report found, California is well behind the pace necessary to meet its current (inadequate) goals for greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030.

The Climate Center — together with scientists and health experts — continues to urge Governor Newsom to not only address climate mitigation in the state budget but also use his executive powers to halt all new oil and gas infrastructure permits and pursue a just transition for impacted workers and communities. In a speech introducing the California Blueprint this morning, Governor Newsom alluded to an “oil-free future” for the state but did not announce any concrete initiatives to phase out oil and gas extraction or refinement. California is the seventh-largest oil-producing state and third-largest refining state in the nation. 

The proposed budget unveiled today will go through several revisions before being approved by the state legislature in June 2022. The full draft budget 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 

Senator Bill Dodd and The Climate Center introduce the Community Energy Resilience Act (SB 833)

SACRAMENTO — Today, Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and The Climate Center are introducing the Community Energy Resilience Act (SB 833). The bill proposes a program to assist cities and local governments in developing energy resilience plans using clean, distributed energy resources, curbing the demand for fossil-fueled generators during power outages.

“Not only have recent power outages cost California billions of dollars, but emissions from backup generators have exacted a heavy toll on our environment,” said Senator Dodd. “I want to prioritize development of clean energy sources, especially in low-income communities, so we minimize the environmental threat and keep the lights on for everyone.”

The Community Energy Resilience Act enables local governments to collaborate with utilities in planning community-scale energy infrastructure, such as solar panels and battery storage, so that communities decide what facilities remain energized during a crisis. Plans are a prerequisite for attracting private and public investments in community energy resilience projects, making them particularly important in light of the recently passed federal infrastructure package.

The Climate Center, a policy nonprofit working across California to rapidly reduce climate pollution at scale, is sponsoring the bill.

“Climate impacts from wildfires to extreme heat waves are disrupting lives and businesses across California,” said The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen. “The Community Energy Resilience Act represents an important step toward a clean energy future for the state. We look forward to working with Senator Dodd to pass this common sense legislation and ensure that California’s most vulnerable communities benefit first.”

A fact sheet about the bill is available here. The full bill text is available here.

ENDS

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

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