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

by Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently released his proposed climate budget of $12.5 billion over five years to boost resilience, curb greenhouse gas pollution, and tackle the wildfire crisis. Note that his entire proposed budget for next year alone is $222 billion.

While we are grateful that the Governor has prioritized climate action, his proposal does not reflect the profound urgency of the science and climate reality. We need significantly more than $2.5 billion per year invested in major emissions cuts and the equitable transition to a climate-safe future.

Progressive funding strategies– from Frequent Flyer Fees to a Fee and Dividend approach that returns money to every taxpayer– can quickly produce the billions needed annually to advance clean energy and storage, carbon sequestration, sustainable mobility, and other initiatives required to secure a healthy, equitable and vibrant California!

Let the Governor know that there’s growing support to accelerate decarbonization in California, starting now!

Resiliency planning

We are pleased that the Governor’s proposal provides local governments with funds to complete resiliency planning- a core principle of The Climate Center’s community energy resilience efforts. It’s time to help local governments plan for future power outages (planned or unplanned) while also advancing their emissions reductions goals. Many of the most effective strategies for decarbonization, equity, and resilience fall within the jurisdiction of cities and counties.

Governor Newsom’s climate budget includes a $50 million line item to bolster community resilience as well as a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond that includes funding for “community-specific climate risks and climate resilience plans.” If approved by both the Senate and Assembly, this bond would be placed before voters on the November 2020 ballot.

Healthy soils and low carbon transportation cuts 

Another positive step forward is the proposed new Climate Catalyst Fund of $1 billion over four years that would provide low-interest loans for emerging technologies and projects aimed at greening California’s economy — especially in agriculture, recycling, and transportation.

We are dismayed, however, that the Healthy Soils Program has been cut by 36% to $18 million. We view this as a big step backward. Now is the time to vastly increase grants to farmers, ranchers and other private land managers for healthy soil management practices (e.g., compost application, cover cropping, and riparian restoration) that increase soil carbon storage and replenish groundwater for emissions reductions and resilience. Grants to reduce dairy methane emissions would also be cut for the second year in a row. The California Climate & Agriculture Network has come out against these budget cuts, citing their popularity and crucial role in sequestering carbon. We strongly agree.

Governor Newsom’s budget also proposes to cut the Air Resources Board’s funding for Low Carbon Transportation by 28% to only $350 million. These funds help put the cleanest trucks, buses, and cars on the road, especially in disadvantaged communities, while also creating jobs. The Coalition for Clean Air has come out against these proposed cuts, due to the critical role that the program has played in reducing air pollution and GHG emissions in the transportation sector (which accounts ~41% of GHG emissions in California). The Climate Center also strongly opposes these cuts.

Rapid decarbonization requires more funding, not less, to secure a healthy future for all.

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

As the fifth-largest economy in the world, California’s policies and budget priorities have major implications both in the state and far beyond its borders. Rapid and equitable decarbonization must be our highest priority to secure our well-being in state and to set an example for the nation and the world.

Please take action today and urge Governor Newsom to enact the bold policies required to reduce GHGs at speed and scale, and to secure a climate-safe future for us all.

Divest and Invest for a climate-safe future

by Stacey Meinzen, The Climate Center

Follow the money, divest from fossil fuels and invest in a healthy, climate-safe future for all. It’s a win-win for our collective future and for your pocketbook (see additional info here).

Chevron just posted $6.6 billion in losses for its fourth-quarter earnings due to troubles with shale gas and bankruptcies are multiplying for the fracking sector. And coal is on a one-way street to financial ruin.

In California, the Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS) and State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which together are valued at over $600 billion, are losing money on fossil fuel investments. Had they divested from fossil fuel stocks a decade ago, they would have generated an additional ~$17.4 billion in returns, per a recent analysis. And the University of California system recently announced it is cutting its investments in fossil fuels because they are a losing financial proposition.

Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest public bank, recently declared that they will cease financing most fossil fuel projects as they hope to become the world’s first ‘climate bank’.

Black Rock Financial, the world’s largest money manager, will make climate risks a key tenet of their investment strategy going forward and their $7+ trillion in assets will no longer support projects like coal-fired power plants. In addition, 631 institutional investors managing more than $37 trillion in assets recently urged governments to step up climate ambition.

Here on the West Coast, Beneficial State Bank, a member of The Climate Center’s Business for Clean Energy (BCE) network, has made a “do no harm” policy that excludes investments in fossil fuels a core part of their business.

Thanks to forward-thinking investors, global renewable energy has quadrupled over the last decade. The urgent need to keep remaining fossil fuel stocks in the ground and to invest in the transition to a clean energy economy is rapidly gaining traction due to economics alone.

You can take action today. Divest from the four largest banks in the United States– JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America– which together poured $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels between 2016 and 2019. Invest your funds in and switch your credit cards to banks and fund managers that are committed to an equitable, climate-safe future. Support divestment campaigns that help speed up and scale up greenhouse gas reductions globally and nationally.

And support The Climate Center’s rapid decarbonization campaign in California to accelerate climate policy timelines, setting an example for the nation and the world that together we can secure a vibrant, healthy future for us all.

Support Rapid Decarbonization for a Climate Safe California