California: Pulling Together for Climate Action Now

Lower Lake, California 2016 (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

Wherever I go, I am proud to call California home. Not only is our state home to the tallest, oldest and biggest trees on earth, the people here are amazing – diverse, resilient and always busy building a better tomorrow.  California, long an environmental trendsetter, is blazing the trail fighting dangerous climate change. But right now a new, widely supported  climate package that is critical to our health, environment, and economy is facing crunch time in Sacramento, as the Legislature nears an August 31 deadline to complete the people’s business.

Working together.  We are all counting on Governor Brown and state lawmakers to work together to pass the next chapter in California’s climate action history – Senate Bill 32 and Assembly Bill 197. These bills will extend to 2030 state limits on the greenhouse gases fueling climate change and provide the legislature with the tools to ensure justice is part of our climate policies. 

Meeting our climate goals.  In the ten years since AB 32, our landmark climate law, was enacted, California has grown from the 8th largest economy to the 6th largest economy in the world.  Back then, I had just gotten my first blackberry, the size of a hamburger, and I still used a fax machine.  Now, in large part because of California’s environmental policies, our economy is stronger than ever.  SB 32 will provide certainty for investors and employers.  It would set an ambitious but achievable target for reducing climate-changing pollution to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 – the most aggressive target in North America.

Strong public support. Good for the environment, good for the economy – but, these common sense climate bills face a tough vote in the Legislature.  The fossil fuel industry has pulled out the same old scare tactics.  Thankfully Californians know better – we support climate action by a big margin.  Businesses, faith groups, labor, environmental justice, and public health organizations all support climate action.

Growing our economy. Our clean energy policies are working.  We’ve reduced harmful pollutants, cut Californians’ fuel bills, made the state home to the most clean energy jobs in the country and spurred economic growth.  We are well on our way to meeting and exceeding our 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction target. Now it’s time for the next step.

Climate action is supported by business. Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a coalition that includes California-based companies such as Levi Strauss and eBay, called the legislation “critical to ensuring that California’s financial markets receive the requisite signals to drive strong and sustained investment in the state’s vibrant green economy.”

If that’s not enough to persuade legislators, they should check out an analysis by the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), which found that the state’s clean energy policies have helped inject $48 billion and created more than 500,000 jobs, benefits that have touched every Assembly district .

Climate change - we see you.  We here in California know what climate change looks like. We are living through an historic drought, a drought worsened by climate change, a drought fueling more frequent and intense wildfires. We know our communities are suffering from localized impacts of air pollution.  The good news is that the people of California, never ones to sit idly by, support state action and we’re willing to do what it takes to forge a better tomorrow for our kids and for the air, land and water that they will inherit from us.

We have twelve days to pass SB 32 and AB 197. We can do it. Now.