Governor’s climate budget: one step forward, one step back

Governor Gavin Newsom recently released his proposed state budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 and it includes some important line items for decarbonization and climate resilience. The governor has proposed $12.5 billion over five years to boost climate resilience, curb greenhouse gas pollution, and tackle the climate change-driven wildfire crisis. The total California state proposed budget for just this year is $222 billion

While we are grateful that the Governor has highlighted climate action, the proposed climate budget spread out of 5 years does not provide needed to enact rapid decarbonization.. However, rapid decarbonization as required by the science means that we will need a lot more investment in the near term. We need funds to support carbon sequestration, sustainable mobility, and other initiatives that can help us achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and net carbon negativity by 2035. 

We look forward to working with the governor and you, our partners, to let the Governor know that there’s support to accelerate decarbonization in California in the next two years.

Resiliency planning line items

The Governor’s proposal calls for financial support for local governments to complete resiliency planning- a core principle of The Climate Center’s Advanced Community Energy (ACE) Initiative.

The Climate Center and several other organizations have been urging the Governor’s Office to create a budget line item that can help local governments plan for future power outages and help meet their climate goals. Many of the most effective strategies for decarbonization, equity, and resilience are within the realm of municipal planning.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $50 million one-time General Fund line item to support additional preparedness measures that bolster community resiliency. The Newsom Administration is also proposing a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond that includes funding for “planning activities to address community-specific climate risks and develop climate resilience plans.” If approved by both the Senate and Assembly, this bond would be before voters on the November 2020 ballot.

We are grateful to Governor Newsom for embracing the important role of local government in energy and climate planning and allocating resources to resilience.

On the path to decarbonization

The budget includes a Climate Catalyst Fund of $1 billion over four years for a new program that would provide low-interest loans for emerging technologies and projects aimed at greening parts of California’s economy — especially agriculture, recycling, and transportation. This fund could, for example, incentivize farmers and ranchers to install efficient irrigation and upgrade diesel engines because those changes have a good return on investment.

Healthy soils and clean cars funding cuts

The Healthy Soils Program: Down from $28 million in the previous budget, the Governor is proposing $18 million for the Healthy Soils Program, which provides grants to farmers and ranchers who adopt new soil management practices that increase soil carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. Grants to reduce methane emissions in the dairy sector would also be cut for the second year in a row from $32 million to $20 million The California Climate & Agriculture Network has come out against these budget cuts, citing their popularity and crucial role in sequestering carbon.

The Air Resources Board’s funding for Low Carbon Transportation: Governor Newsom’s budget proposes to cut the Air Resources Board’s funding for Low Carbon Transportation from $485 million this year to only $350 million in 2020-‘21. This money goes to put the cleanest trucks, buses, and cars on the road, especially in disadvantaged communities, and these types of investments create jobs in California. In fact, electric vehicles were the state’s second-largest export last year. The Coalition for Clean Air has come out against Newsom’s proposed cuts, citing the critical role that the program has in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California.

The Climate Center is also strongly opposed to these cuts. For rapid decarbonization we need more funding, not less.

Please take action today and tell Governor Newsom your concerns about the budget.

The fifth-largest economy in the world must prioritize rapid decarbonization

California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. The state’s policies and budget priorities have long and deep implications for the millions of people living here. California’s climate actions also reach far beyond its borders– through international trade partnerships in myriad industries, including agriculture, energy, high tech, transportation, manufacturing, and more. Rapid decarbonization must be our highest priority.

We thank the Governor for his commitment to addressing climate resilience and know the devil is in the details. We know that we must protect these allocations to ensure these efforts and others on rapid decarbonization initiatives move forward– including sustainable mobility, carbon sequestration through healthy lands, a clean, affordable, resilient and equitable electricity system, robust green financing mechanisms, and more.

GM CEO Mary Barra

GM and Honda unveil electric self-driving car with no steering wheel or pedals

by Matt McFarland, CNN Business, January 22, 2020


  • GM and Honda have engineered a new 6-seat electric vehicle, the Origin, that drives itself
  • The self-driving car isn’t for sale but is rather available for rides through a ride-share app
  • The six-seat electric vehicle has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals, windshield wipers or rearview mirror. Its doors slide rather than swing open. There’s no obvious front or back, like a typical car.
  • The new car will need additional approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to its unique car components

Electric vehicles that offer ride-sharing through carpools are an important part of sustainable mobility.

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Washington state moves closer to clean cars with key electric vehicle bills advancing in legislature


  • “The Senate voted 26-23 to pass SB 5811, a bill that would enable Washington to join the national Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program.”
  • The bill requires that automakers produce a minimum percentage of electric vehicles to be purchased.
  • HB 2515 requires that all 2030 and later car models produced be electric within Washington.

by Business Wire

The Washington State Legislature is moving swiftly to create a cleaner transportation system, with potentially enormous impacts on demand for gasoline, the state’s biggest source of carbon emissions. Today, the Senate voted 26-23 to pass SB 5811, a bill that would enable Washington to join the national Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program. Additionally, a bill requiring all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric by 2030 (HB 2515) was referred to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Eleven states currently participate in the ZEV program, which requires that a minimum percentage of the passenger vehicles supplied by automakers be electric. By putting the responsibility on automakers to make more electric vehicles available, the program avoids fiscal impact on taxpayers.

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New US building codes will make every home ready for electric cars

by Michael J. Coren, Quartz

In January, the International Code Council (ICC) approved changes to building standards that preview a world in which every home has at least one electric car. The building standards organization, which sets voluntary guidelines for new homes, voted to approve a new provision that, functionally, will make all new homes built in the US “EV-ready.”

That’s a big change. Homes in the US are typically built with wiring for only a few 240-volt outlets in the garage, typically enough to handle a washer and dryer. But the ICC cites research (pdf) indicating the US will need 9.6 million new electric vehicle charging ports by 2030. Almost 80% of those will be in single and multi-family residential buildings.

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Electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft? Los Angeles might require it, mayor says.

by Leslie Hook, Financial Times

Los Angeles is considering forcing rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft to use electric vehicles in what would be a first for any city as LA seeks to cut emissions and get more electric vehicles on the streets, the mayor said.

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, told the Financial Times that the electric-vehicle requirement was one step being contemplated to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050.

“We have the power to regulate car share,” he said in a phone interview. “We can mandate, and are looking closely at mandating, that any of those vehicles in the future be electric.”

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Rivian gets $1.3 billion investment in electric truck venture

by Peter Eavis, NY Times

Rivian, an electric-vehicle start-up that has drawn an impressive roster of backers, announced Monday that it had received a $1.3 billion investment led by T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund company.

It was the fourth investment in Rivian this year and the company’s largest funding round so far. Amazon and Ford Motor, which were already Rivian investors, also took part in the latest round.

The funding is a vote of confidence in Rivian, which expects to start delivering a truck and a sport utility vehicle next year. But it also underscores the company’s need for capital. Investments in the company in 2019 have raised $2.85 billion.

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Low-cost batteries are about to transform multiple industries

by Rob Day, Forbes

Lithium-ion battery prices have seen a dramatic decline in manufacturing costs over the past decade. The below chart from a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released today shows the steady march downward in prices.

In fact, the chart may be understating things a bit. BNEF forecasts that the industry will see $100/kWh by 2023. However, one industry insider told me recently that he’s already seeing costs near that point. If so, that price level may prove to be an inflection point for several major industries.

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Debut of the Rivian R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, November 27, 2018

By 2021, all-electric trucks from eight manufacturers will hit the U.S. market

by Paul Lienert, Reuters

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his spacy Cybertruck have ignited a frenzy over electric pickups, and at least seven other U.S. automakers expect to build new battery-powered trucks by 2021.

The question is who will buy them.

Companies ranging from General Motors Co (GM.N) to startup Lordstown Motors Corp have said they plan to introduce electric pickups over the next two years, and are scheduled to build up to 250,000 a year by 2024, according to industry analysts.

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DHL to debut electric delivery vans in US cities

by Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

DHL will debut StreetScooter’s zero-emission Work L delivery van in two urban U.S. markets, one on each coast, starting in Spring 2020, the companies said. They did not specify which markets would be the first.

Full deployment could come in 2022 and 2023, said Ulrich Stuhec, StreetScooter’s chief technology officer, who joined the company from Ford Motor Co in October.

Los Angeles, London, Berlin, Tokyo and 30 other cities around the globe have been working to establish zero-emission zones by 2030. Those cities hope to curb accumulating greenhouse gases that contribute to extreme weather, higher temperatures and rising sea levels, which have steep economic, environmental and human costs.

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Electric buses save cities’ air quality– and money

by Kristoffer Tigue, InsideClimate News

In the coastal city of Gulfport, Mississippi, the state’s first fully-electric bus will soon be cruising through the city’s downtown streets.

The same goes for Portland, Maine—it just received a grant to buy that state’s first two e-buses, which are set to roll out in 2021. And Wichita expects to have Kansas’ first operating electric bus picking up passengers as early as this month after receiving a federal grant.

As cities and states across the country set ambitious mid-century climate change goals for the first time and as prices for lithium-ion batteries plummet, a growing number of transit agencies are stepping up efforts to replace dirtier diesel buses with electric ones.

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