Goal: Enact by 2025 in California the bold policies required by science to be on track for a safe climate by 2030, securing a vibrant, equitable, and healthy future for all

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Climate impacts hitting harder and faster

climate action

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The latest climate science (here and here) supports what millions of people around the world are experiencing daily: the impacts of climate change are hitting harder and faster than expected, posing grave threats to human health and well-being. Children, the elderly, and people living in low-income communities are disproportionately affected. As the science and climate reality demand, our only hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future for all is to enact bold climate policies now, not decades from now.

The Climate Center’s rapid decarbonization campaign translates the urgent need for bold action and the groundswell of public support into actual speed and scale greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. This campaign is the vehicle for change commensurate with the crisis.

We cannot be content with the progress California has made on climate when everything is at stake. The science is clear, as are the solutions. Just as we made the problem, we can solve it. With your generous support, we will seize this moment to demonstrate in California, the world’s 5th largest economy, how to enact the bold policies required by science to reverse the climate crisis.

The climate crisis has arrived and is…more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity (IPCC 2019)…To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live, in ways that improve the vital signs… the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.” –Ripple et. al. World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency, Bioscience, November 2019

Ensuring a just and equitable transition

As we transition to a clean energy economy globally and in California, we must ensure that workers and frontline communities dependent on fossil fuel production and related enterprises are not left behind. Nations all over the world are starting to address this key issue to our collective economic and social well-being. Policies to decarbonize economies must ensure workforce and community security. In addition, California must prioritize and support climate-vulnerable frontline communities and energy-insecure communities in achieving these rapid decarbonization goals.

Rapid decarbonization for a climate-safe future

With your generous support for our rapid decarbonization initiative, The Climate Center and our partners will seize this moment to enact by 2025 the bold policies required by science to put California on track for decarbonization by 2030.

Our overarching strategy is to build a powerful and growing coalition of climate advocates who will drive policy change at the state level in California as a model for other states and countries, focused on the six strategic objectives below.

The Climate Center’s suite of decarbonization policies are all required to stay below 2C warming and avoid dangerous climate chaos. We need aggressive, equitable policies in place now so society can transition to a fossil-fuel free economy as quickly and safely as possible.” –Carl Mears, PhD, UN climate scientist and member of The Climate Center’s Board of Directors

#1: Achieve by 2022 a formal state commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035
An early action will be to secure a formal declaration for rapid decarbonization at the state level of our science-based target with a commitment to annual progress reporting. We will advocate for an executive order and legislation signed into law no later than 2022 mandating that California achieve 80% below 1990 emissions and carbon neutrality (emissions balanced by sequestration) no later than 2030, and net negative emissions (sequestration greater than emissions) no later than 2035. And we will push for state inventories of greenhouse gas emissions to add emissions from wildfires, consumption-based emissions, and ecosystem degradation no later than 2025.

We will also work to ensure that California enacts a just transition program for those currently employed in carbon-intensive industries to assist them in moving to climate-friendly jobs while securing their financial and social well-being.

#2: Create 100% clean, distributed, resilient energy & storage by 2030
To secure a safe climate, California must have policies in place by 2025 to achieve 100% clean, distributed energy and storage, as well as phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies, production and refining, by 2030. Additionally, we must electrify all new and remodeled buildings while enhancing the efficiency of all existing buildings by 2030.

In the face of California’s widespread power shutoffs and the rise of dirty fossil-fuel-powered back-up generators due to increases in extreme fire weather, The Climate Center has launched the Advanced Community Energy (ACE) initiative. ACE establishes a decentralized power system including community microgrids to serve all Californians —prioritizing low income, high fire risk communities first— with clean, local power and storage. This system will reduce the number of planned and unplanned outages, ensure that essential health, fire, police, food, water and other services would remain powered in communities during outages, and enable utilities to better target specific outages from the larger grid.

ACE creates an equitable statewide framework for designing and implementing local clean energy systems to also achieve widespread decarbonization of buildings and transportation. To fully implement community microgrids statewide, our goal is to transform state regulatory policies and institutions by 2022 so that thousands of small-scale distributed energy producers can be compensated for providing local services. We will need market signals, starting with increased state funding, to implement community microgrids at scale. New legislation will also advance novel performance-based metrics for utilities, enabling them to fully support ACE programs in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including low income neighborhoods, clean energy developers, and technology companies.

#3: Achieve 80% sustainable mobility by 2030, including phasing out fossil fuel-powered vehicles starting in 2025

California must pass legislation by 2025 to begin phasing out fossil fuel-powered vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, over the next 5+ years. We must also reprioritize transportation investments to support housing near jobs, equity-focused Vehicle Miles Traveled mitigation banks and other innovative programs that reduce GHG pollution and improve health, especially in disadvantaged communities (ClimateResolve 2018).

Progressive rebates and other incentives for Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) adoption must be increased by 2023 to achieve 50% ZEV cars (7+ million) in the state by 2025 and 90% by 2030. Fifty percent of remaining fossil fuel-powered vehicles must be phased out by 2030. Half of Californians will be incentivized to get out of their cars for local travel, thanks to major new investments in clean energy transit expansion, including zero-emissions buses, trains, e-bikes and e-scooters by 2030. Per a recent study, “Regulating land use, shifting transportation spending, removing barriers to implementing road pricing policies, and altering standards for environmental impact analysis can more effectively reduce transportation-sector GHG emissions and mitigate climate change.”

#4: Sequester 100+ MMT of additional CO2e per year through healthy soils and vegetation management by 2030

Ranchers, farmers, public lands managers, and other ecosystem managers must be incentivized to implement climate-friendly habitat and soil restoration on California’s rural and urban lands as well as coastal waters (“blue carbon”) to sequester from 50 to 125 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents annually by 2030, if we start now. This would deliver additional benefits such as replenished groundwater, flood protection, drought resilience, greater biodiversity, reduced pollution, increased food production, and reduced pollution.

Nascent industrial carbon removal technologies will likely be valuable down the road but we already know how to manage natural and agricultural lands for sequestration today. Carbon sequestration on natural and working lands has also been identified by the California Air Resources Board as a priority pathway for greenhouse gas reductions. Equally important is protecting existing carbon stocks in soil, vegetation and the ocean.

carbon sequestration in soilsWorking with nature using climate-friendly management and restoration practices—such as on agricultural soils as well as in forests, mountain meadows, streamside habitats, tidal marsh, seagrass beds, kelp forests and our own backyards– we can store planet-heating gases from the atmosphere for long periods of time while also providing many other benefits.

Implementing bold and equitable policies that will catalyze carbon sequestration through building healthy soils and restoring healthy habitats will be key to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035.

#5: Fund implementation of resilience measures in every community by 2025

New legislation should allocate the needed funding and support to California’s counties and cities to develop and implement climate emergency response and preparedness measures (e.g., as part of their General Plan requirements) no later than 2022. Priority focus should initially be on the most vulnerable, low income communities. All California jurisdictions should be implementing resiliency efforts by 2025 including implementing climate-smart ecosystem management, early warning systems, evacuation centers, and comprehensive public education.

#6: Enact multiple green financing mechanisms to generate the funding required to pay for these urgent efforts by 2025

New climate action financing mechanisms must be added to the mix of available options by 2025 to generate upwards of $50 billion annually for implementing climate policies by 2030. These include establishing and implementing a frequent flyer fee per passenger from any California airport as well as a progressive carbon tax and dividend, by 2025.

The suite of decarbonization policies are built around the latest science and climate reality. They are subject to revision based on new science and input from our expert advisers.

$25 million over the next five years

To fund our multi-pronged Rapid Decarbonization strategy, The Climate Center is raising $25 million over the next five years, starting with securing $2 million by winter 2020. We will use the funds to hire expert staff and consultants, and leverage the expertise of our partner organizations to plan and implement the following activities that are essential to our success:green landscape

  • Establish a statewide Rapid Decarbonization Partnership and an expanded partner network to ensure participation from and in key regions of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, the Central Valley, greater Los Angeles and San Diego, and rural areas including the Sierras and the North Coast
  • Develop science-based policies for each of our six strategic objectives and identify effective pathways for implementation, including executive orders, agency directives, regulation, and direct legislation
  • Establish a strong legislative advocacy presence, both professional and grassroots, in Sacramento to ensure that speed and scale solutions to global warming are represented in relevant conversations and legislation
  • Identify and build relationships with climate opinion leaders as well as other influencers in the state; work with them to leverage outreach and persuasion efforts
  • Mobilize and engage communities through house meetings and social media in districts of state lawmakers who chair key committees and hold leadership positions
  • Launch a major strategic communications campaign targeting key audiences through traditional and social media
  • Increase our development and fundraising efforts to reach like-minded high-net-worth individuals and foundations

The cornerstone of our rapid decarbonization campaign is a coalition of powerful climate leaders and activists. Together we will push California state and local governments to pass legislation with much more aggressive goals and timelines for achieving net negative greenhouse gas emissions (sequestered greenhouse gas exceeds emissions).

The policies we will advocate for also must make it easier for everyone to make climate-friendly choices, from purchasing 100% renewable energy and replacing natural gas appliances with electric to leasing or buying electric vehicles and/or using more mass transit, e-bikes and e-scooters, and eating locally, regeneratively grown food. Achieving our goals will require rapid and far-reaching transformations in nearly every aspect of California life: energy, industry, buildings, transport, land use, and urban planning.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action

Global warming is an emergency with the highest possible stakes: the future of life on Earth. The gradual progress that has characterized the climate movement to date is woefully inadequate and we are running out of time to avoid long-lasting or irreversible impacts.

Starting now, not decades from now, solving the climate crisis must be the top global priority with every government, organization, business, community, and individual. The time is right for more aggressive climate action in California, serving as an example to inspire and move the world.

With your support of our Rapid Decarbonization for a Climate-Safe Future initiative, The Climate Center will seize this moment to collaboratively enact by 2025 the bold policies required by science to put California, and the world, on the path to a safe climate by 2030.

Please join us on this urgent journey. We must succeed. And with your help, we will.

Please share your feedback and interest in partnering together by emailing us at rapid-decarb@theclimatecenter.org.