Landmark Climate Bills Advance in California Legislature

The California Legislature advanced yesterday a suite of bills that establish new targets, priorities and direction for the Golden State's ongoing efforts to promote clean energy at home and combat climate change around the world.

The Senate approved twelve measures in an unprecedented package of forward-looking policies that build on Californians' overwhelming support for the state's current efforts under the banner of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).

  • SB 32 (Pavley) codifies the state's goal of reducing carbon pollution to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which climate scientists warn will be required to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (the impetus for the 'Under 2 MOU' that commits other signatories to the same level of reductions). The bill was amended on the floor to also codify Governor Brown's recent executive order to achieve a 40 percent reduction by 2030;
  • SB 350 (De León) moves forward the goals Governor Brown announced in his Inaugural Address to increase renewable energy to 50 percent, cut petroleum use in half, and double the energy efficiency of buildings by 2030;
  • SB 185 (De León) directs the country's largest public pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS) to divest their portfolios from coal; SB 189 (Hueso) establishes an expert committee to advise and inform state clean energy and climate policies to maximize job creation and economic benefits to all Californians;
  • SB 398 (Leyva) provides technical assistance to small businesses, non-profits and disadvantaged communities to access funding for energy efficiency upgrades or projects that lessen the negative health impacts of poor air quality; and SB 379 (Jackson) requires cities and counties to include climate adaptation and resiliency strategies in the safety elements of their general plans upon the next revision of a local hazard mitigation plan beginning Jan. 1, 2017.
  • The remaining measures include: SB 9 (Beall), Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program; SB 64 (Liu), California Transportation Plan; SB 246 (Wieckowski), Climate Adaptation; SB 788 (McGuire), California Coastal Protection Act of 2015; SB 785 (Block), Atmospheric Rivers; and SB 367 (Wolk), Agriculture Climate Benefits Act.

With less fanfare, important bills also advanced in the Assembly. AB 1288 (Speaker Atkins) reaffirms the role of market-based mechanisms like cap-and-trade as an integral piece of California's climate portfolio; AB 645 (Williams and Rendon) raises California's Renewables Portfolio Standard from 33 to 50 percent by 2030; and AB 802 (Williams) removes barriers to capturing efficiency savings from bringing existing buildings up to code.

Senate President pro Tem De León captured the sentiment yesterday with a nod to Nelson Mandela and California's long track-record of proving clean energy naysayers wrong, noting "it always seems impossible until it's done. Let's get it done. Let's continue to lead the world."


This post was updated June 4 at 10:04 am.


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