Washington State looks to a ban on new gas vehicles

by Danny Westneat, Seattle Times


The idea of banning new gas cars, formerly seen as too aggressive and radical, is picking up steam in Washington state:

  • Ten Washington legislators introduced House Bill 2515, which aims to ban the registration of any new gas-powered passenger or light-duty trucks, starting ten years from now, in 2030
  • The bill excludes emergency vehicles and equipment over 10,000 lbs
  • HB 2515  allows the reselling of older model gas powered vehicles in 2030 and after

Transitioning from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles is a key component of The Climate Center’s sustainable mobility work.

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Oak Creek, Corvallis OR, by Maddie Maffia

The water protection industry employs more people than coal or steel. Trump is changing that.

by Nick Mott, NPR


  • An estimated half of wetlands across the country and 18% of streams will not have federal protection with the new rollback of water regulation
  • The wetland mitigation industry fears their jobs could be lost due to these new environmental rollbacks 
  • Many wetlands have been restored with the help of “mitigation banks” that pool investor money and work on large scale restoration projects

We at The Climate Center are focusing on California, the world’s 5th largest economy, to enact the emissions reduction and sequestration policies necessary for rapid decarbonization.


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Governor’s climate budget: one step forward, one step back

Governor Gavin Newsom recently released his proposed state budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 and it includes some important line items for decarbonization and climate resilience. The governor has proposed $12.5 billion over five years to boost climate resilience, curb greenhouse gas pollution, and tackle the climate change-driven wildfire crisis. The total California state proposed budget for just this year is $222 billion

While we are grateful that the Governor has highlighted climate action, the proposed climate budget spread out of 5 years does not provide needed to enact rapid decarbonization.. However, rapid decarbonization as required by the science means that we will need a lot more investment in the near term. We need funds to support carbon sequestration, sustainable mobility, and other initiatives that can help us achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and net carbon negativity by 2035. 

We look forward to working with the governor and you, our partners, to let the Governor know that there’s support to accelerate decarbonization in California in the next two years.

Resiliency planning line items

The Governor’s proposal calls for financial support for local governments to complete resiliency planning- a core principle of The Climate Center’s Advanced Community Energy (ACE) Initiative.

The Climate Center and several other organizations have been urging the Governor’s Office to create a budget line item that can help local governments plan for future power outages and help meet their climate goals. Many of the most effective strategies for decarbonization, equity, and resilience are within the realm of municipal planning.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $50 million one-time General Fund line item to support additional preparedness measures that bolster community resiliency. The Newsom Administration is also proposing a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond that includes funding for “planning activities to address community-specific climate risks and develop climate resilience plans.” If approved by both the Senate and Assembly, this bond would be before voters on the November 2020 ballot.

We are grateful to Governor Newsom for embracing the important role of local government in energy and climate planning and allocating resources to resilience.

On the path to decarbonization

The budget includes a Climate Catalyst Fund of $1 billion over four years for a new program that would provide low-interest loans for emerging technologies and projects aimed at greening parts of California’s economy — especially agriculture, recycling, and transportation. This fund could, for example, incentivize farmers and ranchers to install efficient irrigation and upgrade diesel engines because those changes have a good return on investment.

Healthy soils and clean cars funding cuts

The Healthy Soils Program: Down from $28 million in the previous budget, the Governor is proposing $18 million for the Healthy Soils Program, which provides grants to farmers and ranchers who adopt new soil management practices that increase soil carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. Grants to reduce methane emissions in the dairy sector would also be cut for the second year in a row from $32 million to $20 million The California Climate & Agriculture Network has come out against these budget cuts, citing their popularity and crucial role in sequestering carbon.

The Air Resources Board’s funding for Low Carbon Transportation: Governor Newsom’s budget proposes to cut the Air Resources Board’s funding for Low Carbon Transportation from $485 million this year to only $350 million in 2020-‘21. This money goes to put the cleanest trucks, buses, and cars on the road, especially in disadvantaged communities, and these types of investments create jobs in California. In fact, electric vehicles were the state’s second-largest export last year. The Coalition for Clean Air has come out against Newsom’s proposed cuts, citing the critical role that the program has in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California.

The Climate Center is also strongly opposed to these cuts. For rapid decarbonization we need more funding, not less.

Please take action today and tell Governor Newsom your concerns about the budget.

The fifth-largest economy in the world must prioritize rapid decarbonization

California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. The state’s policies and budget priorities have long and deep implications for the millions of people living here. California’s climate actions also reach far beyond its borders– through international trade partnerships in myriad industries, including agriculture, energy, high tech, transportation, manufacturing, and more. Rapid decarbonization must be our highest priority.

We thank the Governor for his commitment to addressing climate resilience and know the devil is in the details. We know that we must protect these allocations to ensure these efforts and others on rapid decarbonization initiatives move forward– including sustainable mobility, carbon sequestration through healthy lands, a clean, affordable, resilient and equitable electricity system, robust green financing mechanisms, and more.

Clean up cars and cement industry to reach California’s climate goals, report says


  • “California’s current climate policies won’t cut greenhouse gas pollution enough to meet the state’s goals.”
  • “A new report says cleaning up cars and the cement industry could help.”

by Rachel Becker, CalMatters

California won’t meet its ambitious climate goals in 2030 unless more drivers trade gas guzzlers for clean cars, and heavy industry like cement producers reduce their pollution, according to new research.

In a report released today, climate policy think tank Energy Innovation concludes the best-case scenario for California is that it cuts climate warming pollution about 36% below 1990 levels by 2030. The worst case is about 30% — and neither meets the 40% cut baked into California law.

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Washington state moves closer to clean cars with key electric vehicle bills advancing in legislature


  • “The Senate voted 26-23 to pass SB 5811, a bill that would enable Washington to join the national Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program.”
  • The bill requires that automakers produce a minimum percentage of electric vehicles to be purchased.
  • HB 2515 requires that all 2030 and later car models produced be electric within Washington.

by Business Wire

The Washington State Legislature is moving swiftly to create a cleaner transportation system, with potentially enormous impacts on demand for gasoline, the state’s biggest source of carbon emissions. Today, the Senate voted 26-23 to pass SB 5811, a bill that would enable Washington to join the national Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program. Additionally, a bill requiring all new vehicles sold in the state to be electric by 2030 (HB 2515) was referred to the House Transportation Committee for a hearing.

Eleven states currently participate in the ZEV program, which requires that a minimum percentage of the passenger vehicles supplied by automakers be electric. By putting the responsibility on automakers to make more electric vehicles available, the program avoids fiscal impact on taxpayers.

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Electric vehicles for Uber and Lyft? Los Angeles might require it, mayor says.

by Leslie Hook, Financial Times

Los Angeles is considering forcing rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft to use electric vehicles in what would be a first for any city as LA seeks to cut emissions and get more electric vehicles on the streets, the mayor said.

Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, told the Financial Times that the electric-vehicle requirement was one step being contemplated to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050.

“We have the power to regulate car share,” he said in a phone interview. “We can mandate, and are looking closely at mandating, that any of those vehicles in the future be electric.”

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MUST READ: Why science failed to stop climate change: How the energy companies took us all

by NAOMI ORESKES November 18, 2019 read full article in Salon here

It’s a tale for all time. What might be the greatest scam in history or, at least, the one that threatens to take history down with it. Think of it as the climate-change scam that beat science, big time…

….Scientists working on the issue have often told me that, once upon a time, they assumed, if they did their jobs, politicians would act upon the information. That, of course, hasn’t happened. Anything but, across much of the planet. Worse yet, science failed to have the necessary impact in significant part because of disinformation promoted by the major fossil-fuel companies, which have succeeded in diverting attention from climate change and successfully blocking meaningful action….

….The [recent] comments of Republican committee members offer a sense of just how deeply the climate-change disinformation campaign is now lodged in the heart of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans as 2019 draws to an end and the planet visibly heats. Consider just six of their “facts”:

1. The misleading claim that climate change will be “mild and manageable.”There is no scientific evidence to support this. On the contrary, literally hundreds of scientific reports over the past few decades, including those U.S. National Climate Assessments, have affirmed that any warming above 2 degrees Centigrade will lead to grave and perhaps catastrophic effects on “health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth.” The U.N.’s IPCC has recently noted that avoiding the worst impacts of global warming will “require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy… infrastructure… and industrial systems.”…

2. The misleading claim that global prosperity is actually being driven by fossil fuels. No one denies that fossil fuels drove the Industrial Revolution and, in doing so, contributed substantively to rising living standards for hundreds of millions of people in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. But the claim that fossil fuels are the essence of global prosperity today is, at best, a half-truth because what is at stake here isn’t the past but the future. Disruptive climate change fueled by greenhouse gas emissions from the use of oil, coal, and natural gas now threatens both the prosperity that parts of this planet have already achieved and future economic growth of just about any sort. Nicholas Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank and one of the foremost experts on the economics of climate change, has put our situation succinctly this way: “High carbon growth self-destructs.”

3. A misleading claim that fossil fuels represent “cheap energy.” Fossil fuels are not cheap. When their external costs are included — that is, not just the price of extracting, distributing, and profiting from them, but what it will cost in all our lives once you add in the fires, extreme storms, flooding, health effects, and everything else that their carbon emissions into the atmosphere will bring about — they couldn’t be more expensive. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the cost to consumers above and beyond what we pay at the pump or in our electricity bills already comes to more than $5 trillion dollars annually. That’s trillion, not billion. Put another way, we are all paying a massive, largely unnoticed subsidy to the oil, gas, and coal industry to destroy our civilization. Among other things, those subsidies already “damage the environment, caus[e]… premature deaths through local air pollution, [and] exacerbat[e] congestion and other adverse side effects of vehicle use.”

4. A misleading claim about poverty and fossil fuels. That fossil fuels are the solution to the energy needs of the world’s poor is a tale being heavily promoted by ExxonMobil, among others. The idea that ExxonMobil is suddenly concerned about the plight of the global poor is, of course, laughable or its executives wouldn’t be planning (as they are) for significant increases in fossil-fuel production between now and 2030, while downplaying the threat of climate change. As Pope Francis, global justice leader Mary Robinson, and former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon — as well as countless scientists and advocates of poverty reduction and global justice — have repeatedly emphasized, climate change will, above all, hurt the poor. It is they who will first be uprooted from their homes (and homelands); it is they who will be migrating into an increasingly hostile and walled-in world; it is they who will truly feel the heat, literal and figurative, of it all. A fossil-fuel company that cared about the poor would obviously not be committed, above all else, to pursuing a business model based on oil and gas exploration and development. The cynicism of this argument is truly astonishing….

5. Misleading assertions about the costs of renewable energy. The cheap fossil fuel narrative is regularly coupled with misleading assertions about the allegedly high costs of renewable energy. According to Bloomberg News, however, in two-thirds of the world, solar is already the cheapest form of newly installed electricity generation, cheaper than nuclear, natural gas, or coal. Improvements in energy storage are needed to maximize the penetration of renewables, particularly in developed countries, but such improvements are happening quickly. Between 2010 and 2017, the price of battery storage decreased a startling 79% and most experts believe that, in the near future, many of the storage problems can and will be solved.

6. The false claim that, under President Trump, the U.S. has actually cut greenhouse gas emissions. Republicans have claimed not only that such emissions have fallen but that the United States under President Trump has done more to reduce emissions than any other country on the planet. One environmental reporter, who has described herself as “accustomed to hearing a lot of misinformation” about climate change, characterized this statement as “brazenly false.” In fact, U.S. CO2 emissions spiked in 2018, increasing by 3.1% over 2017. Methane emissions are also on the rise and President Trump’s proposal to rollback methane standards will ensure that unhappy trend continues….

….ExxonMobil loves to accuse me of being “an activist.” I am, in fact, a teacher and a scholar. Most of the time, I’d rather be home working on my next book, but that increasingly seems like less of an option when Big Energy’s climate-change scam is ongoing and our civilization is, quite literally, at stake. When citizens are inactive, democracy fails — and this time, if democracy fails, as burning California shows, so much else could fail as well. Science isn’t enough. The rest of us are needed. And we are needed now.

Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. She is coauthor, with Erik Conway, of Merchants of Doubt. Her latest book is Why Trust Science?

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.

UNITED IN SCIENCE: High-level synthesis report of latest climate science (Sept 2019)

See this excellent United Nations high level climate science synthesis (Sept 22 2019) of the latest from the advisory group to the UN Climate Action Summit. You can read the press release and summary here.  This is provides the scientific foundation for much more bold action in California– accelerated timelines and more aggressive policies to address the climate crisis.  -Ellie Cohen

Key Points:

  • There is growing recognition that climate impacts are hitting harder and sooner than climate assessments indicated even a decade ago
  • Meeting the Paris Agreement of staying below 2C warming requires immediate and deep decarbonisation, protection and enhancement of carbon sinks and biodiversity, and efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
  • Current country commitments to reduce emissions globally need to be 3x greater to be in line with the 2°C goal and 5x more for the 1.5°C goal. Technically it is still possible to bridge the gap

Foreword by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General:

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. This important document by the United Nations and global partner organizations, prepared under the auspices of the Science Advisory Group of the Climate Action Summit, features the latest critical data and scientific findings on the climate crisis. It shows how our climate is already changing, and highlights the far-reaching and dangerous impacts that will unfold for generations to come. Science informs governments in their decision-making and commitments. I urge leaders to heed these facts, unite behind the science and take ambitious, urgent action to halt global heating and set a path towards a safer, more sustainable future for all.

Key Messages:


The Global Climate in 2015 – 2019
• Average global temperature for 2015-2019 is on track to be the warmest of any equivalent period on record. It is currently estimated to be 1.1°C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2°C warmer than 2011-2015
• Observations show that global mean sea level rise is accelerating and an overall increase of 26% in ocean acidity since the beginning of the industrial era

Global Fossil CO2 Emissions
• CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use continue to grow by over 1% annually and 2% in 2018 reaching a new high
• Growth of coal emissions resumed in 2017
• Despite extraordinary growth in renewable energy, fossil fuels still dominate the global energy system

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
• Increases in CO2 concentrations continue to accelerate
• Current levels of CO2, CH4 and N2O represent 146%, 257% and 122% respectively of preindustrial levels (pre-1750)

Emissions Gap
• Global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020
• Implementing current unconditional NDCs would lead to a global mean temperature rise between 2.9°C and 3.4°C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels, and continuing thereafter
• The current level of NDC ambition needs to be roughly tripled for emission reduction to be in line with the 2°C goal and increased fivefold for the 1.5°C goal. Technically it is still possible to bridge the gap

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018 & 2019 Special Reports
• Limiting temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would go hand-in-hand with reaching other world goals such as achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty
• Climate change puts additional pressure on land and its ability to support and supply food, water, health and wellbeing. At the same time, agriculture, food production, and deforestation are major drivers of climate change

Climate Insights
• Growing climate impacts increase the risk of crossing critical tipping points
• There is a growing recognition that climate impacts are hitting harder and sooner than climate assessments indicated even a decade ago
• Meeting the Paris Agreement requires immediate and all-inclusive action encompassing deep decarbonisation complemented by ambitious policy measures, protection and enhancement of carbon sinks and biodiversity, and effort to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

Global Framework for Climate Services
• Climate and early warning information services should underpin decision-making on climate action for adaptation
• The capacities of countries to deliver climate and early warning information services varies across regions


This report has been compiled by the World Meteorological Organization under the auspices of the Science Advisory Group of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, to bring together the latest climate science related updates from a group of key global partner organizations – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), UN Environment (UNEP), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Global Carbon Project, Future Earth, Earth League and the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). The content of each chapter of this report is attributable to published information from the respective organizations. Overall content compilation of this material has been carried out by the World Meteorological Organization. This report is available electronically, together with more extended background reports and additional supporting material at:

Review of Designing Climate Solutions

by Buddy Burch, The Climate Center

Hal Harvey’s 2018 work entitled Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy, provides the reader with a primer in constructing effective policies to avoid catastrophic global temperature rise. Harvey is deeply ingrained in the climate movement. A graduate of Stanford University with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering, he is the founder of ClimateWorks Foundation and Energy Foundation, and he is the CEO of Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC. He was appointed to energy panels organized by Presidents Bush and Clinton, and he is active on many other boards and foundations that are doing important work to mitigate climate change.

I read this book as part of an ongoing examination by The Climate Center on policy in the climate movement. We are searching for the best strategies to align the movement, and we argue that having strong policy criteria gives organizations something powerful to work with. My mission aside, Harvey is clearly an expert in the material, and I personally look forward to having this book on my shelf as I enter graduate school for urban planning.

The work starts with the premise that humans must achieve a 1,185 Gigaton emissions reduction in order to have a 50 percent chance of avoiding a 2-degree Celsius global temperature increase. He then divides the book into sections based on the five sectors in which these emissions ought to occur: power, transportation, building, industry, and cross-sector. Within each of these sectors, Harvey lays out criteria (he calls them “policy design principles”) for success that he has identified over the course of his research. These include building in continuous improvement, setting long-term expectations for fair planning, avoiding loopholes, eliminating unnecessary soft costs, and more. They are a consistent and helpful lens used throughout the book to demonstrate that policies cannot just be good in theory. They have to be thoughtfully executed.

Designing Climate Solutions can be a difficult read if you are not an environmental policy expert, but I believe that it is still worth the challenge in order to be better informed about the policies being implemented by your government. Being informed helps us ask for what we need. My only criticism is that, while Harvey goes into depth on the relationship among the five sectors and how to establish a strong portfolio of policy for each, he does not acknowledge how policy fits in with other strategies utilized by organizations in the climate movement.

At The Climate Center, we agree with his emphasis on policy solutions, but we also observe that not all organizations recognize the need for policies that offer speed and scale solutions. Many opt, instead, to educate people about the facts of climate change, exhort them to take individual action, or continue research efforts with little applicability. Given Harvey’s enthusiasm for policy, it would be helpful to hear more about his process of recognizing the importance of strong policy over other strategies.


Isabella Burch works for The Climate Center as a legislative research assistant. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2016 with degrees in government and philosophy. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning, concentrating on sustainability and environmental policy.