California is helping lead the charge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but more needs to be done as climate change remains the state’s top environmental issue in 2021 issue, according to top environmental lobbyists in Sacramento.
Other issues on their agenda include plastic pollution, recycling, wildlife protections, and greater repair and reuse of appliances and electronic products before they are discarded.
But the wish lists from the Sierra Club, Environment California and the public-interest advocacy group CALPIRG are overwhelmingly loaded with climate-change initiatives. The state’s record-doubling wildfire season — 4.4 million acres burned this year — is an immediate indicator of consequences of the global warming, and things are likely to get worse before they get better, they say.
“We are already facing the impact of a warming planet, and if we want to give our kids and grandkids a shot at a better life, we have to bear the brunt to make the changes that science says we need to make,” said Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California.
Beside cutting down on greenhouse gases, reducing carbon emissions also has a positive effect on air quality. While California ranked fourth nationwide in environment-friendly “climate-change contributions,” it also had the nation’s worst air-quality, according to a widely cited 2019 analysis by WalletHub. Overall, California was the seventh most environment-friendly state in the U.S.
Here are the top climate-change issues the Sierra Club, Environment California and CALPIRG would like to see get more attention from state lawmakers in the coming year:
100% clean electricity. The current state goal is to reach 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045, but activists are calling on the Legislature to be even more aggressive by moving up the date to 2030. To achieve that, they want the state to increase solar and geothermal energy production, and push harder for development of hydrogen electricity and of floating windmills in the waters off northern and central California.
Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, also wants to see solar-panel permitting streamlined for homes and businesses, and an end to new buildings that use natural gas for heating. One such bill, AB 33, introduced this month by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would ban natural-gas connections in new public buildings constructed in 2022 or later.
Electric vehicles. “The governor’s recent executive order prohibiting the sale of new gas-powered cars after 2035 will require work in 2021 to lay the groundwork to get there,” Rusch said. Continued incentives for the sale of electric vehicles is needed, as are more charging stations, Rusch said.
Additionally, Jacobson would like to see the goal for 100% clean public transit moved up to 2030 from 2040.
Fracking. The underground practice of extracting fossil fuel is being performed as far south as Los Angeles County, and offshore from Santa Barbara to Seal Beach. It can release large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and can also contribute to air, soil and water pollution.
Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips, who wants the practice banned, said “fracking continues to be permitted at a rapid pace.” While Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order this year calling for an end to new fracking by 2024, his administration has continued to approve new permits.
Climate resilience bond. This $5.5 billion bond proposal failed to reach Newsom’s desk last session but has been reintroduced this month as SB 45. It would address a host of issues expected to worsen as a result of climate change, including $2.2 billion for wildfire prevention, $1.5 billion for drinking water supplies and, $1 billion for protecting the state’s coastal lands, oceans, bays and wetlands.
If approved, the measure would go before voters in 2022.
Source: Orange County Register