In summary

Senate Bill 100 would mandate 100 percent renewable electricity in California by 2045. That will mean better lives for the residents of California — more jobs, less pollution, more innovation and lower costs — and it will reduce state and national dependence on fossil fuel.

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By Rhea Suh

Rhea Suh is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Rsuh@nrdc.org. Suh wrote this commentary for CALmatters.

California has long been a national and world clean energy leader. The state passed one of the first renewable energy portfolio standards in the nation in 2002 and has shattered the original goal of increasing the state’s renewable energy mix to 20 percent by 2017. The state achieved more than 30 percent.

As President Donald Trump surrenders American leadership in the global fight to combat climate change, California can ensure that the United States continues to lead the way toward a carbon-free future.

What California does matters. The state’s massive economy and tremendous intellectual and creative resources provide the opportunity to help lead the nation.

That’s why the passage of Senate Bill 100 by Sen. Kevin de León is so important. This bill, which is pending in the Assembly, will shift the state’s transition to a clean energy economy into overdrive. It will accelerate the previous commitment to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 by four years and set a new goal of reaching 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

This bill will mean better lives for the residents of California — more jobs, less pollution, more innovation and lower costs — and it will reduce state and national dependence on fossil fuel.

California will be doing its part to steer the world away from the climate change disasters we are experiencing in the form of droughts, intense storms, massive wildfires and coastal erosion. All that will only get worse if we do not do enough to lower carbon emissions.

The United States is in dire need of leadership on climate change. California is proving that environmental responsibility and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. California can show the rest of the nation, and the world, that innovation can lead to good-paying clean energy jobs, abundant energy, and a strong economy.

We need to see that the U.S. can seize the opportunity presented by this challenge and prosper — even with resistance from the White House.

At Natural Resources Defense Council, we know the true stakes in this fight. This isn’t a simple policy disagreement. It is the difference between a bright or bleak future. It is the difference between a world working together to solve humanity’s greatest challenge and a world of chaos and conflict caused by worsening climate crises.

Climate change is not a “hoax.”  California experienced its hottest July on record. Scientists issue dire warnings nearly every day about the dangers facing civilization as a result of the temperature changes we are witnessing right now. Despite those warnings, Trump is threatening to open more of our coast to offshore drilling and scaling back renewable energy efforts.

We must do more than battle against Trump’s unwise policies. We need to prove there is a realistic alternative, which is why I urge passage of Senate Bill 100. SB 100 is a bold, vital and progressive step forward that will reassure the world that the United States is not dropping out of the global effort to combat climate change.

Some skeptics will undoubtedly oppose the legislation. They’ll say the bill is moving too fast, pushing too hard. But California can do this. The state has the resources and the brain power to make a 100 percent carbon-free energy system a reality. Our history proves we can do it. And we must do it. For ourselves. For our nation. For our world. For our future, and the future of our children.

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