Getting to Zero


Recently, the Governor and the Legislature came together on a budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. The deal marks the culmination of months of negotiations to create a budget that protects key programs, including those that prioritize fighting climate change, without raising taxes on the middle class. As the Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 4, which is responsible for Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy, I worked with my colleagues and stakeholders to prioritize the most cost effective solutions to fight climate change.

Last year, California returned to being a world leader on climate. Mary Creasman, the head of the influential California Environmental Voters organization, called it the “most impactful year of climate legislation in California history, hands down.”

While we still have a long road ahead of us, 2022 saw a number of significant legislative victories in the battle against climate change in California. A few landmark bills set new targets and tightened the state’s overarching goals for reducing greenhouse gasses (GHG) and fossil fuel use. On top of this goal setting, the Legislature managed to garner bipartisan support for a variety of bills to ease the transition to a clean energy future. Finally, the Legislature and Governor backed up these policies by allocating an unprecedented amount of money in the state budget aimed at fighting climate change.

California’s grid was in the highest type of grid emergency and at major risk of blackouts this past week. Despite what skeptics say, renewables are not to blame.

In this Getting to Zero post, I share the Governor's climate budget proposals for which I’m most excited and which I believe will be critical in the coming year to meet our state emission reductions targets. The first three categories — EVs and public transportation, clean energy grid, and building electrification — include budget items that target the three largest emission sources in California. Two others — climate change adaptation and mitigation, and clean economy development — highlight policy areas that are essential to help prepare California for future impacts of climate change on the economy and everyday life.

On my way to COP26, I took a pit stop in Portugal to meet with individuals involved in the expansion of the country’s offshore wind plants, which deploy floating offshore wind turbines that California could be using to produce energy. Inspired by the growth of offshore wind in Portugal, I want to reflect upon offshore wind in California — where we are, where we’re going, and how we can get there quicker.

I've repeatedly gotten the question: Do I feel optimistic or pessimistic about the fight against climate change after attending COP26? My response is that I feel encouraged. COP26 brought more progress than expected, yet less than we hoped. My participation in this year’s conference brought content, connections, and hope around the fight against climate change, and provided an unreplicable opportunity to exchange ideas about climate solutions with other leaders on this issue.

My Senate Bill 67, the 24/7 Clean Energy Standard bill, will require utilities and other electricity suppliers to match their increasing amounts of clean energy to the timing of their energy load — on an hourly basis. As the bill made its way through the legislature this year, my team and I fielded concerns and I decided to make SB 67 a two-year bill while we work to find the right policy framework to put the state on a path to 100% clean energy on a 24/7 basis.