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Testimony: Invest now or California’s climate goals will be out of reach

The Fairview Fire killed two people and burned 28,000 acres near Riverside County in 2022. Photo via CALFIRE.
The Fairview Fire killed two people and burned 28,000 acres near Riverside County in 2022. Photo via CALFIRE.

On April 24, 2024, the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on the Climate Crisis, Resources, Energy, and Transportation met to hear from experts and the public on the proposed 2024-2025 state budget. Facing a multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, Governor Newsom has proposed billions in potential cuts to climate and energy investments. If approved by the legislature, the cuts could have disastrous consequences for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis, who are already breathing some of the most polluted air in the nation.

To meet our climate goals and clean the air, California needs to strengthen critical climate programs, not cut them. Every dollar we invest in fighting the climate crisis today will save lives.

The following testimony was given to the committee by Barry Vesser, Chief Operating Officer for The Climate Center:

Good morning, my name is Barry Vesser representing The Climate Center. 

A recent report released by Next 10 shows that California is not on track to meet its 2030 climate goals. In fact, we will be 17 years late. Cutting climate investments from the budget will only make this reality worse. Cuts to critical clean air and climate programs have real and immediate human consequences — especially for pollution-burdened communities of color. 

As you consider what expenditures should be shifted from the General Fund to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, we need to prioritize those that bring clean air, public health, and equity benefits. 

And as you confront the difficult decisions around delaying these vital programs, we must first stop state subsidies for fossil fuels. Ending oil and gas subsidies, especially through larger programs like the Water’s Edge Election or Research and Development tax credits, can potentially redirect hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the state’s climate goals. I also want to support my colleague from Coalition for Clean Air’s suggestion that the legislature should shift State Highway Account funds to cover the funding for clean and active transportation programs that are proposed to be cut in the Governor’s budget. The Clean Cars 4 All program should be fully funded.