| Blog Post

As the world burns, California leaders gathered to advance climate action

The Climate Center CEO Ellie Cohen at the CA Climate Policy Summit on March 19 in Sacramento with Liane Randolf, Chair, CA Air Resources Board; Senator Scott Wiener; Assemblymember Isaac Bryan; and, Politico’s CA Policy Editor, Debra Kahn. Photo by Vivien Toumey.

As ocean heating continues to reach record levels, global temperature records were smashed for the ninth straight month and we exceeded the dangerous threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius warming 12 months in a row for the first time. Scientists expressed alarm that these changes signal Earth’s life-sustaining systems may be on the brink of irreversible change. The United Nations even issued a “red alert” warning this week that humanity is not doing nearly enough to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

Here in California, a new study found that state emissions actually increased in 2021 (the last year for which data is available). We must now cut emissions by at least 4.6 percent each year (starting now) to achieve the too-low state goal of 40 percent below 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2030.  

We are perilously close to triggering dangerous global tipping points. This makes what we do here in California, working collaboratively for accelerated, equitable climate action, more important than ever. To that end, The Climate Center convened the third annual California Climate Policy Summit in Sacramento on Tuesday with more than 350 people in attendance. 

Much gratitude to all of you — climate activists, environmental justice advocates, state policymakers, businesses, labor leaders, scientists, and policy experts, as well as Summit sponsors and promotional partners — who shared knowledge to build collective power and enact the bold, equity-centered climate policies the science and rapidly deteriorating climate require. We were also thrilled to honor Senator Nancy Skinner with the first annual California Climate Leadership Award, so richly deserved. Congratulations and thank you, Senator Skinner.

On March 20, we co-hosted the 2024 California Climate Lobby Day with Environment California. The budget was one of several policy priorities that more than 60 of us (in 16 groups) discussed with dozens of legislators. With this year’s state budget deficit ranging from $38 to $73 billion (depending on who you talk to), Governor Newsom proposed a whopping $4.7 billion in cuts to critical climate initiatives. As we shared with lawmakers and their staff, climate budget cuts have human consequences. Later is too late to protect our communities and our health from climate disasters and pollution. 

Take action today! Urge Governor Newsom to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and prioritize equitable climate investments in the state budget, and tell your Assemblymember to support SB 252 (Gonzalez) to divest state pension funds from Big Oil!
This blog first appeared in The Climate Center’s bi-weekly newsletter. To keep up with the latest climate news and ways to take action for a climate-safe future, subscribe today!