All of California’s electricity will come from clean power sources by 2045 under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday, the latest in a series of ambitious goals set by the state to combat the effects of climate change.
Brown hailed the move as another example of the state’s global leadership on environmental initiatives as the Trump administration backs away from such policies. The bill’s signing comes just days before Brown is set to host a global conference on climate change in San Francisco, a final effort to showcase California’s actions on the environment before he ends his fourth and final term as governor in January.
“California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said during a signing ceremony at the Capitol. “And yes, it is an existential threat. No matter what the naysayers may say, it is a real, present danger to California and to the people of the world.”
Senate Bill 100 by state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) requires the state to obtain all of its electricity from clean sources — such as solar, wind and hydropower — by 2045. The bill also requires electric utilities and other service providers to generate 60% of their power from renewable sources by 2030, up from the 50% goal previously set for that date.
Within the last two years, California lawmakers have taken significant climate change action, passing legislation requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and to extend its cap-and-trade program to encourage businesses to reduce their pollution. They have also approved proposals to help finance a transition to electric vehicles, among other environmentally friendly programs.
Brown said the legislative action shows how seriously California is taking threats to the environment. Last month, state regulators released a report showing climate change would lead to deadlier heat waves, more consistent wildfires and higher sea levels in the coming decades than previously believed.
“California has been doing stuff that the rest of the world, most of the world, is just hoping they might get to someday,” Brown said.
The bill narrowly passed the Legislature last month after nearly two years of debate over cost and feasibility concerns. Opponents argued that pushing fossil fuels out of the electricity grid within three decades wasn’t possible, and efforts to do so would lead to higher electric bills across the state.
But supporters contend that the new law is essential for California to meet its other climate change goals, ensuring the state remains a worldwide leader in fighting the effects of global warming. Among those who delivered late pushes for legislators to back SB 100 were former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Vice President Al Gore.
The law will take effect in January, and California will then join Hawaii as the only two states that have pledged to eliminate fossil fuels from their electric grids by 2045.
The legislation does not include a roadmap for how the state will achieve its goal. Backers of the bill say simply setting the target will give scientists and the energy industry the certainty of knowing there will be a large market for clean power technology and encourage its development.
“SB 100 sends a clear signal to folks in laboratories, folks in board rooms to have the security of knowing that the fifth-largest economy in the world is moving toward clean energy,” Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) said.
Brown’s action Monday was seen as part of an effort to bolster the state’s climate credentials in advance of the global climate summit scheduled to begin Wednesday in San Francisco. The three-day meeting is expected to draw 4,000 delegates, many of them the world’s leading climate change experts.
De León said the state would continue to enact climate friendly policies no matter what the Trump administration might pursue.
“Today California sends an unmistakable message to the nation and the world,” he said during the signing ceremony. “Regardless of who occupies the White House, California will always lead on climate change.”
Brown also announced Monday that he was signing a new executive order directing California to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, saying that the state will remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits by that date.
The order requires that state regulators take into account carbon emissions from nonhuman sources, such as wildfires, when developing California’s environmental guidelines. The measure also encourages regulators to push for ways to sequester greenhouse gases, such as policies to preserve and expand the state’s forests, to offset carbon production from other sources.
Last week, Brown signed legislation to try to block any efforts by the Trump administration to expand oil drilling along California’s coastline.