Let’s imagine it is April 2030. In the early 2020s, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, we in California finally addressed the climate crisis at the speed and scale science demanded.
Nation & World Collaborating for Speed & Scale Climate Action
Today, Earth Day 2030, we celebrate the deep systemic changes we have collectively made for a healthy, equitable, and climate-safe future. We reflect back on an exceptional ten years of climate action.
The decade began with a nightmare, COVID-19, which woke us up to the deadly consequences of ignoring science. We quickly realized that we must heed the warning of climate experts and take immediate, bold action to avert climate catastrophe.
It took an exponentially growing body of diverse advocates (like you!) putting pressure on policymakers to create bold change in line with the science. COVID-19 showed us how quickly and dramatically we could change government policies, unleash market forces, and create opportunities for everyone to participate in a climate-safe economy.
Today we look back on our many achievements, including:
- California accelerated the phase-out of fossil fuel development, production, and use.
Legislation enacted in the early 2020s is showing enormous benefits for health, the environment and the economy as the state halted all new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and began rapidly phasing-out fossil fuel-powered cars, trucks, buses, trains, and equipment.
We dramatically increased investments in public transportation, housing near jobs, and innovative programs that reduced toxic air pollution, especially for frontline communities.
The state also enacted zero-emissions building codes and began phasing out methane gas. We are grateful to the workers whose livelihoods were dependent on fossil fuel industries for making this rapid transition to a 100% GHG-free, clean energy economy possible.
- We are rapidly drawing down carbon from the atmosphere through sequestration on natural and working lands for net-negative emissions, making sequestration greater than emissions.
Ranchers, farmers, and public resource managers were incentivized to implement climate-friendly habitat and soil protection and restoration programs on millions of acres from the Sierras to the sea.
Farmers led the way in reducing emissions while supporting food and water security with climate-friendly, regenerative production.
- Unavoidable damage from extreme climate events meant that California became heavily invested in community resilience and protecting the most vulnerable, lower-income communities.
Legislation enacted in the early 2020s funded and supported California’s counties and cities to develop and implement clean, local, decentralized, resilient energy and storage, building independent capacity to address climate and other emergencies.
Major new state programs funded and supported local climate emergency response and preparedness measures, including early warning systems, resilience centers, and public education programs that are now benefitting all Californians.
- California created new financing mechanisms, from frequent flyer fees and carbon taxes to private sector investments, that generated the billions of dollars needed annually for speed and scale climate solutions.
Millions of people took action to bring about the changes in policy that accelerated our transition.
On this Earth Day 2030, we commit to continuing our efforts to secure a healthy, vibrant, and equitable future for all.
- New Executive Order from Governor Newsom on biodiversity, climate and working lands: A step in the right direction - October 8, 2020
- Governor Newsom has taken a bold first step. Urge him to do more. - September 23, 2020
- No More Business as Usual: Climate-Safe California and the path to net-negative emissions by 2030 (class lecture pdf) - September 20, 2020