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California Legislature makes little progress on the environment

by Mark Olalde, Desert Sun


Highlights

  • Many environmental bills were not passed during the 2020 legislative session in California
  • Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, remarks that we are running out of time to make big environmental impacts:
  • “We only have until 2030 to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis and prepare for what’s happening, and right now there’s no clear vision or agenda from leadership in Sacramento on how to tackle this challenge…Big Oil and other industry interests have a hold on our state legislature and are putting our future at risk.”
  • A few environmental bills that made it past the legislature include AB793, a bill that will cut down on waste and increase the use of recycled materials, and AB841 which would help streamline the installation of electric vehicle charging stations
  • Bills that gain huge support from environmentalists but ultimately failed include AB 345, which would have created setbacks between oil drilling sites and homes, hospitals, parks, and other community spaces. Another set of bills, AB1080 and SB54, would have called for a 75% decrease in single-use plastics and mandated that products be recyclable or compostable by 2032

The Climate Center has been tracking energy and climate bills throughout the 2020 California legislative session. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2020/09/02/california-legislature-makes-little-progress-environment/3447974001/

Will business listen to what our children are saying about the climate emergency?

This article was originally published in the North Bay Business Journal on October 25, 2019.

by Efren Carrillo and Ellie Cohen

Last month, millions of young people in the North Bay and all over the world participated in events that are part of a massive youth-led grassroots movement calling attention to the urgent need to decarbonize our economies now, not decades from now. The message young people delivered was aimed at climate deniers and governments that put profit over health in their refusal to recognize climate change as an emergency that threatens us all.

Will we as a society heed the clarion call of our young people?

Climate change poses grave and immediate threats, especially to children, the elderly, and people living in low-income communities. In response, the Pope and more than 70 of the nation’s leading health and medical organizations declared a climate crisis. We are running out of time to prevent irreversible consequences. Our only hope for a vibrant, healthy, and equitable future is to enact aggressive policies now.

The actions we must take are clear. As United Nations scientists reported, we must slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 while making significant progress toward removing upwards of one trillion tons of warming pollutants we have already put in the atmosphere. This will require rapid and far-reaching transformations in nearly every aspect of life: energy, industry, buildings, transport, land use and cities.

California is a leader in addressing climate change. Through landmark legislation in 2018, the state committed to reducing global warming emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieving 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2045. Local governments throughout the state are enacting policies to support these more aggressive goals.

However, given the science and climate reality, California must, and can, do more. As the world’s fifth largest economy, California should continue to serve as a model for the rest of the country and the world. Working with scores of community and business partners, The Climate Center plans to help our state step up to the challenge.

But how?

California state and local governments must immediately enact a suite of policies that put us solidly on the path to reversing the climate crisis by 2030. That means committing to much more aggressive action and accelerated timelines for achieving net-zero emissions, healthy carbon-sequestering ecosystems, and resilient communities.

These policies are within our reach and include upgrading electricity production and storage to be 100% clean and safe by 2030; decarbonizing transportation by enacting a phaseout of new fossil fuel powered vehicle sales no later than 2025; and, managing rural, agricultural and urban lands to sequester more carbon while also aiding communities in coping with climate extremes, from extreme heat to drought and flooding.

The policies must also incentivize all Californians to make climate-friendly choices. Examples include transitioning to 100% renewable energy and replacing natural gas appliances with electric, leasing or buying electric vehicles, using more mass transit, e-bikes and e-scooters, and eating food produced and distributed with practices that do not contribute to the climate crisis.

Enacting these policies will have a long-term net benefit to our economy but will require major investments akin to the World War II wholesale retooling of the economy. To pay for them, we will we need more dedicated market-based mechanisms for putting a progressive price on carbon. California already has a cap and trade system. We also need to implement tax and dividend, frequent flyer fees, green bonds and other mechanisms.

In addition, we urge Californians to elect policymakers at all levels of government who are committed to aggressive policies that rein in climate change and hold them accountable.

Climate activists are fortunate in California that 80% of residents view climate change as a threat to the state’s future economy and quality of life. Two out of three (65%) support acting independently of the federal government on this issue (PPIC).

With a federal government that is becoming increasing hostile to California’s climate policies, we must work even more diligently to deliver climate solutions at the speed and scale that the science requires. To achieve this ambitious and necessary agenda, business will be an essential partner. Throughout the history of our nation, business has driven innovation. Here in the North Bay, many businesses are leading the way to building a vibrant and sustainable economy, from installing solar on rooftops to purchasing electric fleet vehicles to building microgrids that enable businesses to disconnect from the wide area grid and run autonomously.

Will California invest in making the youth-led climate strikes a turning point in the climate emergency? We can’t afford not to.

California civic leaders champion climate change

While the national stage is looking rather bleak, in California there’s plenty to be grateful for when it comes to climate protection champions in public service.

  • Governor Jerry Brown has been leading climate protection efforts for several years.  In September of 2016, he signed SB 32, which requires California to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of hitting 1990 levels by 2020
  • Senator Barbara Boxer is a huge proponent of climate protection legislation, and has proposed pricing carbon, protecting communities from fracking, and investing in energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
  • Kamala Harris has indicated that she will also do everything she can to promote climate protection legislation, including protecting Obama’s clean power plan and creating clean energy jobs.

In addition, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released a statement in response to the recent election of Donald Trump, a climate change denier, in which they said, “We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.”

We are grateful today for these leaders who are protecting this planet for future generations.