In summary

By supercharging our climate efforts in tandem with the federal climate legislation and California’s climate budget, we can put clean energy to work fighting inflation, lowering household energy costs and creating good jobs.

By Tom Steyer, Special to CalMatters

Tom Steyer is an investor, business leader, philanthropist and activist who is fully committed to fighting the climate crisis.

With the passage of long-overdue federal climate legislation, California is poised to supercharge its efforts on climate action. California has long led this country, and the world, in advancing clean-energy legislation. Now it’s time to up our game.

With fewer than two weeks left in the legislative session, California’s leaders must act quickly to update our state’s climate policy framework.

California’s 2030 and 2050 pollution-reduction targets of 40% and 80%, respectively, are inadequate to match what science now tells us is both necessary and possible for our state to achieve. This is especially true now that the Inflation Reduction Act puts the entire United States on course to achieve nearly the same level of reductions. It’s time for us to accelerate our targets to 55% by 2030 and 90% by 2045.

Our goal of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2045, visionary and audacious just a few years ago, now appears almost quaint in its inadequacy. Let’s get to at least 90% by 2035 or sooner. 

And California still does not have a legally binding date to achieve carbon neutrality. Let’s get it done now. 

Clean-energy production, however, is growing faster than ever. Our state already has produced, for a brief time this spring, more than 100% of its electricity demand with renewable resources. 

It is well past time to protect California communities from the harmful effects of oil production by ensuring that no oil drilling occurs within 3,200 feet of places where children, families and elderly Californians are at risk from health and safety harms.

To protect our future, we need stringent rules to ensure the safety of any carbon capture and storage operations that may come online. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently called on the Legislature to address some of this unfinished business in California’s climate policy framework. The Legislature still is working on its response, but in the meantime, it is critical for Californians to join in the call to our legislators to act quickly and to go big.

To make it easier for people across the state to speak out, NextGen California, an organization I founded, has created a portal at GoBigOnClimate.com where Californians can make their voices heard. As the Legislature moves forward, that site will stay up to date with new ways to connect with lawmakers on climate concerns through the final hours of the legislative session, which ends at midnight Aug. 31.

Upping our game on climate in California is vital to stem the tide of carbon pollution and also safeguard Californians experiencing real economic pain. 

Our elected officials already have taken a major step forward by committing a historic $54 billion in the state budget to efforts to accelerate the growth of clean energy and to protect our state from extreme heat, drought, air pollution and other climate effects. Proportionate to California’s size, the per-year investment in this budget is nearly three times what the federal government has put forward in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Thanks to rapid advances in technology, renewable energy is now the world’s most affordable energy source. 

By supercharging our climate efforts in tandem with the federal climate legislation and California’s climate budget, we can put clean energy to work fighting inflation, lowering household energy costs and creating good jobs.

Californians get it. The climate crisis is a kitchen-table issue in every part of the state, both because of the high costs of fossil-fuel dependence and the onslaught of extreme weather catastrophes we face year after year. That’s why 84% of California Democrats and more than half of voters overall want immediate action on climate from their elected officials — not more dithering and delays.  

Time is short to get this done before the Legislature goes home at the end of the month — there’s not a moment, or a dollar, to waste.

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