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Kamala Harris’ Plan For International Climate Cooperation Could Smooth the Transition From Fossil Fuels

by Aimee Barnes, State of the Planet


Highlights

  • Senator Kamala Harris’ “Climate Plan for the People” platform during her Presidential campaign highlighted the creation of an international coalition to manage the transition away from fossil fuel production
  • In order to reach the best-case climate scenario as proposed by the Paris Agreement, the world will need to adapt a rapid phaseout of net global carbon dioxide emissions and deep reductions greenhouse gases
  • The GHG emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves equal three times the “carbon budget” and burning these reserves could add up to 2,900 Gt of CO2 to the atmosphere
    •  a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves, and over 80 percent of current coal reserves globally would need to remain unused from 2010 to 2050 even to meet the less ambitious 2°C target.
  • Many countries around the globe have implemented limits on supplying fossil fuels by banning drilling and oil reserve exploration
  • Canada, Norway, and Spain are some of the countries working towards a just transition of labor for their fossil fuel workers
  • Tackling a managed decline and just transition as a global collective has the potential to be more impactful on managing economic impacts of the transition away from fossil fuels
  • Harris’ climate plan proposed convening major emitters in early 2021, focusing on climate change, the global economy, and a worldwide phase out of fossil fuels
  • Potential declarations and commitments from the plan could be: planning for work force transitions, accelerating away from the fossil fuel economy, the requirement need to reach a 1.5 degree C scenario

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/08/20/kamala-harris-coalition-just-transition/

Harris and Ocasio-Cortez team up on a Climate ‘Equity’ Bill

by Ilana Cohen, Inside Climate News


Highlights

  • California Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez unveiled an updated version of their Climate Equity Act that was initially released a year ago as Senator Harris was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination
  • The Climate Equity Act would:
    • Create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability 
    • Require the government to consider the impact of any environmental legislation or regulation on low-income communities by using an equity score created by climate experts and community leaders to assess the equity impacts of new legislation
    • Redirect capital to marginalized communities of color by increasing the diversity of recipients of federal grants and loans in order to make these opportunities more accessible
  • Representative Ocasio-Cortez explains that diversity is needed while creating new policies:

For too long, policies that affect communities of color have been determined by a few white men in a room in Washington… I’m proud to partner with Senator Harris on a bill that will pave the way for a new, inclusionary way of doing things in D.C.”


Senator Kamala Harris is Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s pick for Vice President. Centering equitable climate legislation and policies for California’s frontline communities is one of The Climate Center’s guiding principles


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/05082020/kamala-harris-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-climate-equity-bill

Congressional climate strategy includes microgrids and climate justice

Last week, Democrats on the US House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis issued a report, “Solving the Climate Crisis, “ which provides an emissions reduction policy framework which seeks to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Here’s a link to a summary article from Vox about the report. 

One of the recommendations in the report is to “Invest in disproportionately exposed communities to cut pollution and advance environmental justice.” This matches Climate Center policy priorities related to climate justice as noted in a recent letter sent by The Climate Center and Partners to the Steyer Committee (here’s a link to a summary article from Microgrid Knowledge).  One of the principles of The Climate Center-backed Community Energy Resilience Act, SB 1314, was the prioritization of state support for low-income and disadvantaged communities.

The new report also spotlights microgrid development as a key resilience strategy, particularly for critical infrastructure — similar to recommendations from The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience program and associated media efforts.

Microgrid-related recommendations in the new congressional report include the following:

  • Establishing a new program at the Departments of Health and Human Services to support pre-disaster hospital and health facility resilience projects, including retrofits and maintenance to reduce flood and wildfire risk, harden facilities against extreme weather, and integrate redundant water and power supplies, including microgrids and community renewable energy grids;
  • Directing the Department of Energy to create a grant, technical assistance, and demonstration programs for microgrids, especially in isolated areas and vulnerable communities;
  • Providing technical assistance and funding through the US Department of Agriculture to deploy resilient renewable energy and microgrid systems;
  • Creating a new program within the Department of Transportation to assess and deploy resilient solutions for public transit electrification, including advanced microgrids.

To learn more community energy resilience policy, register here for The Climate Center’s August 5th Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit.

The plan meant to unite Biden and Bernie voters on climate is here

by Emily Pontecorvo, Grist


Highlights

  • After Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, he joined forces with Former Vice President Joe Biden to create a climate task force
  • Other members of the task force included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash, and Catherine Flowers, the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, Secretary of State John Kerry, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, and former Biden policy advisor Kerry Duggan
  • The platform focuses on environmental justice, eliminating pollution, creating union jobs in clean energy, and other policies reminiscent of the Green New Deal
  • Varshini Prakash helped shape the platform by changing the target dates form 2050 to 2035 and introduced benchmarks such as electrifying school buses, retrofitting buildings, and increased energy efficiency within the first 5 years of Biden’s presidency
  • The task force also incorporated a “Tribal Needs Assessment” to support more than 500 tribes in the energy transition

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://grist.org/politics/the-biden-and-sanders-unity-task-force-on-climate-heres-their-new-plan-sunrise/

Nancy Pelosi signed a coronavirus emergency response bill in March 2020.

House Democrats’ climate plan is ambitious, but is it enough?

On Tuesday House Democrats unveiled a package of more than 120 pieces of legislation that seek to drive a transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and the plan ties climate action to racial justice. Some pundits are saying that the plan shows just how far progressives have pushed the climate conversation. Vox reporter David Roberts called it, “The most detailed and well-thought-out plan for addressing climate change that has ever been a part of US politics.”

The plan is very similar to the Green New Deal, but lacks a ban on fracking and other rapid fossil fuel phase-out measures that will be required to avoid already looming climate catastrophe.

The plan comes just as Ohio University has released a study revealing that the South Pole has been warming at more than three times the global average over the past 30 years. For climate scientists, the alarm bells are ringing on global tippings points that are beginning to unleash potentially irreversible damage.

The 547-page report calls for setting a price on carbon dioxide pollution, eliminating pollution from cars by 2035 and from power plants by 2040, and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The roadmap draws on information gathered in more than 100 hearings by Castor’s panel and other House committees. The plan also calls for massive jobs programs, investments in infrastructure, and tax credits to encourage more manufacturing of clean energy components domestically.

The plan is ambitious, and hopefully this agenda will also soon include a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels that is more in line with the current climate reality and the need for net-negative emissions by 2030

California can help by setting our own targets in line with the latest science. Our Climate-Safe California platform outlines these targets and the bold policies needed to meet them. Endorse it today.

DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden’s current plan

by Rachel Frazin, The Hill


Highlights

  • The Democratic National Committee Climate Council released a set of policy recommendations for a greater investment than Joe Biden’s climate plan
  • Joe Biden’s climate plan would spend $1.7 trillion over the next decade to address climate change, whereas the Climate Council plan endorses spending $10-16 trillion over the same period
  • Michelle Deatrick, leader of the Climate Council, emphasizes that this plan would be the boldest policy the party has adopted:

“These policies center environmental justice for frontline and vulnerable communities, urgent climate action, and worker empowerment… If adopted, these platform recommendations would be the most ambitious policies addressing the climate crisis ever adopted by the Democratic Party.”

  • Biden’s plan calls for reaching a 100% clean energy economy and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050  and halving the carbon footprints of buildings by 2035
  • The Climate Council calls for almost-zero emissions by 2040, banning crude oil exports, denying permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure, a permanent ban on fracking, and 100% renewable energy in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation by 2030

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 


Read more: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/501147-dnc-climate-group-calls-for-larger-federal-investment-on-climate

Democrats united behind a climate policy plan, but the timeline is based on old science

by David Roberts, Vox


Highlights

  • Broad alignment amongst the Democratic party on climate policy may help the left unite and fight the climate crisis 
  • Working on policy platform with the input of people from different backgrounds, identities, and environmental experiences helped built trust
  • The long list of Democratic presidential hopefuls had a much more expanded vision on climate by the end of their campaigns than when they started
  • The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that called for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 has become the baseline for US climate policy
  • Republican leaders have been vocal on their aversion to climate policy and have refused to help establish nationwide climate goals and legislation
  • Since Democrats must work on their own for climate policy, it is imperative that the party is united on the climate crisis issue
  • Clean energy, a just transition of labor, environmental justice, and clean transportation are important goals for the Dems to reach within new policies
  • Additional goals that many on the left agree upon include: limiting new oil wells, holding fossil fuel companies accountable
    • However, carbon pricing, carbon capture and sequestration, and nuclear energy are still divisive 

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean electricity a major step towards achieving the Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/21252892/climate-change-democrats-joe-biden-renewable-energy-unions-environmental-justice

Earth Day 2030: California celebrates reaching net-negative emissions

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.

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.

We can achieve this vision if we act today based on the latest science. Support The Climate Center and help make Climate-Safe California a reality. Make every day Earth Day!

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – March 27, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 disruption, the legislature has gone into recess until April 13 at the earliest. While the legislature is on recess, The Climate Center continues to analyze the bills that were introduced in February, and is in the process of determining positions on many of them. Below are several, but not all, of the key bills we are tracking. For a complete list of the 112 bills we are currently tracking in 2020, click HERE. Our next update will be published here on April 9. Please send updates, suggestions, corrections to woody@theclimatecenter.org

 

Assembly Bills

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) SUPPORT – This bill will, if enacted, establish regulations to protect public health and safety near oil and gas extraction facilities,  including a minimum setback distance between oil and gas activities and sensitive receptors such as schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, residences, hospitals, and health clinics. See The Climate Center’s Letter of Support. STATUS: In the Senate. Read first time. Sent to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment to a policy committee.

 

AB 1839 (Bonta) WATCH – The “Green New Deal” bill. Introduced on January 6, this bill would create the California Green New Deal Council with a specified membership appointed by the Governor. The bill would require the California Green New Deal Council to submit a specified report to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2022. So far the plan is scant on specifics including how goals will be met or how much the State will pay to meet those goals. STATUS: Introduced in January 6. No committee assignment yet. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.  The Climate Center is still assessing the bill and has not yet taken a position.

AB 1847 (Levine) WATCH – This bill would authorize the CPUC (contingent on the Commission finding that an electrical corporation is not complying with State law, rules, or regulations) to appoint a public administrator to the electrical corporation for a period not to exceed 180 days. The bill would vest the public administrator with oversight authority over the electrical corporation’s activities that impact public safety. See the bill author’s factsheet. STATUS: In the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee. No hearing date set.

AB 2145 (Ting) WATCH – This bill would state the intent of the legislature to enact legislation to reform the electric vehicle charging infrastructure approval process employed by the CPUC to help ensure that by 2030 California will safely install enough EV charging ports to meet the demand through public and private investment.

 

AB 2689 (Kalra) Likely Support. – This bill updates Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) confidentiality provisions to allow a broader range of market experts to participate in complex IOU cost recovery proceedings and supports California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversight to protect customers from unreasonable or unjustified IOU rate increases. California IOU electric generation rates have increased 49% since 2013. Between 2008 and 2018, IOU customer rates doubled from $29.3 billion to $59.3 billion per year. AB 2689 would result in greater IOU accountability and improved consumer protection, safety, and affordability. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.
AB 2789 (Kamlager) WATCH – This bill would appropriate $1,500,000 and require the CPUC, in consultation with the CA Energy Commission, to request the California Council on Science and Technology to undertake and complete a study, as specified, relative to electrical grid outages and cost avoidance resulting from deployment of eligible renewable energy resources, battery storage systems, and demand response technologies. The bill would require the PUC to report the results of the study to the Legislature by January 1, 2022. STATUS: Awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.
AB 3014 (Muratsuchi) WATCH – This bill aims to improve the reliability of California electric supply by reforming the State’s resource adequacy (RA) program. Specifically, this bill creates the Central Reliability Authority (CRA), a non-profit public benefit corporation, to purchase residual RA needed to meet state requirements while still allowing load-serving entities (LSEs), such as Community Choice Agencies (CCAs), to maintain their procurement autonomy. The newly created CRA also reduces costly RA purchases currently undertaken by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and greatly enhances the RA market. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.

AB 3021 (Ting) SUPPORT – This bill would appropriate $300,000,000 per fiscal year in the 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23 fiscal years from the General Fund to the California Energy Commission to administer a program to provide resiliency grant funding and technical assistance to local educational agencies for the installation of energy storage systems. STATUS: Double-referred to Education and Natural Resources committees.

 

AB 3251 (Bauer-Kahan) WATCH – This bill would require that charging of energy storage systems be treated as load in calculations for demand response programs, and that capacity from energy storage systems installed on the customer side of the meter be allowed to be aggregated for purposes of determining resource adequacy capacity; and electricity exported to the grid from the customer side of the meter be allowed to count toward the capacity obligations of load-serving entities. STATUS: In Assembly, referred to Asm Energy Committee.

 

Senate Bills

SB 45 (Allen, et al) SUPPORT – Dubbed the “Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020.” This is a proposed $5.51 billion general obligation bond to be placed on the November 3, 2020 statewide general election. Specifically, $570 million will be made available for climate resiliency initiatives including microgrids, distributed generation, storage systems, in-home backup power, and community resiliency centers such as cooling centers, clean air centers, hydration stations, and emergency shelters. STATUS: Passed out of Senate, in the Assembly, held at the desk.

 

SB 378 (Wiener) WATCH – Would establish customer and local government protections related to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents. Specifically, the bill requires IOUs to provide annual reports to the Wildfire Safety Division within the CPUC on the condition of their electrical equipment and provide maintenance logs to assess fire safety risk. The bill also requires the CPUC to develop procedures for consumers and local governments to recover costs from IOUs accrued during PSPS events, improves PSPS notification procedures, and makes IOUs subject to civil fines if the CPUC determines that the IOU failed to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. STATUS: In the Assembly, pending committee referral.

SB 774 (Stern) WATCH – SB 774 would require IOUs to collaborate with the State’s Office of Emergency of Services and others to identify where back-up electricity sources may provide increased electrical distribution grid resiliency and would allow the IOUs to file applications with the CPUC to invest in, and deploy, microgrids to increase resiliency. Concerns focus on too much control being placed in the hands of the IOUs over microgrid development when other LSEs and stakeholders can and should play a role. STATUS: In the Assembly committee process with no committee assignment and no hearing date.

 

SB 917 (Wiener) WATCH – This bill renames the California Consumer Energy and Conservation Financing Authority and via eminent domain takes control of PG&E to create the Northern California Energy Utility District and a public benefit corporation, Northern California Energy Utility Services, to carry out day to day operations. The key provision of the bill that is relevant to Community Choice Energy is: “10623: The authority of a community choice aggregator to provide electric service within the service territory of the district shall remain as if the district were an electrical corporation.” STATUS: Triple-referred to Senate Energy, Govt & Finance, and Judiciary Committees.
SB 947 (Dodd) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to evaluate financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms that may serve to better align electrical corporation operations, expenditures, and investments with public benefit goals. STATUS: In the Senate Energy & Utilities Committee.
SB 1215 (Stern) – SB 1215, the “California Emergency Services Act” establishes the Office of Emergency Services in the office of the Governor and provides that the office is responsible for the state’s emergency and disaster response services for natural, technological, or manmade disasters and emergencies. Creates a grant program for microgrids. STATUS: In Senate, double-referred to the Governmental Organization and Energy Committees.
SB 1240 (Skinner) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Independent System Operator, to identify and evaluate options for transforming the electrical corporations’ (Investor Owned Utilities’) distribution grids into more open access platforms that would allow local governments and other third parties to participate more easily in grid activities, as provided. The bill would require the commission to update the identification and evaluation at least once every two years. The bill would require the commission, beginning January 1, 2022, and biennially thereafter, to submit to the Legislature a report on the identification and evaluation of options. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog about this bill. STATUS: In Senate – referred to Senate Energy Committee.
SB 1258 (Stern) WATCH – Titled the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act, this bill would enact the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act to require the California Infrastructure Bank (IBank), in consultation with specified agencies to administer the Climate Catalyst Revolving Fund, which the bill would establish to provide financial assistance to eligible climate catalyst projects. STATUS: In the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
SB 1314 (Dodd) SUPPORT – SB 1314, the Community Energy Resilience Act of 2020, would require the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. The bill would set forth guiding principles for plan development, including equitable access to reliable energy, as provided, and integration with other existing local planning documents. The bill would require a plan to, among other things, ensure a reliable electricity supply is maintained at critical facilities and identify areas most likely to experience a loss of electrical service. The bill would require the council to establish a stakeholder review board to provide statewide oversight for purposes of the grant program. The bill would require a local government, as a condition of receiving grant funding, to submit its plan and a report of project expenditures to the stakeholder review board within six months of completing the plan. The bill would require the stakeholder review board to annually report specified information about the grant program to the Legislature. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog about this bill. STATUS: Double-referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees.

Op-ed: California has a long way to go on climate policy

By Jacques Leslie, Los Angeles Times


Highlights

  • California’s cap-and-trade program alone won’t be sufficient to reach the state’s goals, including its mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
  • Energy Innovation, a San Francisco think tank, spent more than two years developing a computer model called an Energy Policy Simulator to measure the efficacy of various policies for reaching the state’s 2030 goals. The model has six proposals that would generate $21 billion in net economic and social benefits over the next decade
  • Four of Energy Innovation’s six proposals would strengthen existing policies, including increasing the cap-and-trade program’s carbon price floor from its current impotent level of $16.68 per ton of carbon emissions. A recent World Bank report recommended a $40 to $80 price range.
  • The computer modelers recommend combining multiple strategies and building on existing mandates, including:
    • Requiring 70% carbon-free electricity by 2030 (a 10% increase from current law)
    • Increasing the state’s vehicle standard from 5 million to 7.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030
    • Requiring that 80% of new cars sold in 2030 are electric
    • Accelerating building electrification, including replacing residential natural gas space and water heaters with electric heat pumps
  • New initiatives are also needed such as a zero-emission standard for heat used in industrial processing, which would force the carbon-intensive cement industry to decarbonize

The Climate Center follows key legislation in California to advocate for the support and funding of key climate legislation for rapid decarbonization.