California moves one step closer to 100 per cent renewables by 2045

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California one step away from becoming the second state in the US – after Hawaii – to mandate a 100 per cent renewable energy target.

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The California State Assembly on Tuesday passed what is being described as an historic bill that would serve to eliminate all carbon emissions from the state’s electricity system by 2045, and push it to 100 per cent renewables by the same time.

The Senate Bill 100 (SB-100) will see California’s renewable energy target increase to 60 per cent by 2030 – with an interim target of 50 per cent by the end of 2026 – and to 100% by 2045. It will be the second state in the US – after Hawaii – to mandate a 100 per cent renewable energy target.

The historic bill was passed by the Californian Senate earlier this year, 25 to 13, and after its passage through the state assembly will now return to the Senate for what is assumed to be quick passage before it is sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, where it is expected it will be signed and put into law quickly.

Governor Brown has made fighting climate change a cornerstone of his time in power and has been a leading voice for the United States to adhere to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement regardless of its President’s decision to step out of the Agreement.

SB-100 was authored by outgoing State Senator Kevin de León, who is challenging Dianne Feinstein for her US Senate seat, and passed the assembly on Tuesday 43 to 32.

“When it comes to fighting climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, California won’t back down,” de León said. “Today, thanks to the leadership my colleagues displayed this afternoon, we have doubled down instead.”

As the world’s fifth largest economy, California has been a global leader in fighting climate change and championing the transition to renewable energy.

The state has led the way in terms of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and earlier this year the California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols announced that the state had reduced its climate pollution to below 1990 levels four years ahead of schedule.

California recorded half-a-million clean energy jobs in 2015 and currently boasts the largest solar industry in the country, with 100,000 solar jobs.

The state’s energy mix similarly matches its political goals, made up of 34% natural gas, 29% renewable energy, 15% hydropower, 9% nuclear power, 9% from other sources, and only 4% from coal power.

These are impressive numbers, but more so when you consider that, only ten years ago, the state’s energy mix was made up of 46% natural gas, 18% coal, and only 11% from renewable energy sources.

“This is a massive victory for Californians who’ve been demanding a swift transition to clean energy in the state,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of environmental non-profit 350.org. “With wildfires intensifying and temperatures skyrocketing, the impacts of climate change across the Golden State are impossible to ignore.

Just this week, the state’s own climate assessment revealed that climate change will be deadlier, more destructive, and costlier than previously thought.

“SB 100 is a critical first step toward addressing the worsening climate crisis, but to truly change course, we must end fossil fuel extraction,” Boeve added.

Next week, thousands of people will flood the streets of San Francisco and cities around the world to demand bold leadership ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit. Before then, Gov. Brown should step up and sign SB 100 — and then go even further by kickstarting the transition off of fossil fuels while protecting Californian’s lives and livelihoods.”

“California just became the largest economy in the world to commit to a 100% clean energy grid,” said Paul Cort, an Earthjustice attorney who leads the California Right to Zero campaign. “While Trump is taking the nation backwards by deregulating and subsidizing the coal, oil, and natural gas industries in D.C., California is rolling up its sleeves to build bold climate protections.

Already home to 500,000 clean energy jobs and the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the United States, California is proving that it can be done.”

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