For Landmark Climate Change Law to Work, California Must Stay the Course

rp_erica-morehouse-287x377-228x300.jpgFor months, EDF has been reporting on the exciting conversations happening at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Governor's office on the impressive progress California is making towards meeting its AB 32 climate protection goals and on what comes next for the state beyond 2020.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of continuing the dialogue as I testified in support of the AB 32 Scoping Plan Update before the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. While some have recently debated the benefits of AB 32 and its cornerstone cap and trade program, most Californians recognize the benefits that the landmark law has delivered since its adoption in 2006, as well as the progress it promises with continued support from state leaders.

As the rest of the nation (and the world) eyes California, it is imperative that we remain focused on sustaining and strengthening the world’s most comprehensive climate change program,  and ensuring we remain on the path to reaching our 2020 and future greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

The hearing follows the February release of the Proposed First Update to the AB 32 Scoping Plan, which EDF is very supportive of thus far, given its ambitious recommendations. The Scoping Plan Update takes a thorough look at all aspects of the state's economy, asking both what California has done to address climate change already and where critical opportunities still remain.

I delivered three main messages to legislators in my testimony:

  1. First, AB 32 and especially the cornerstone cap-and-trade program are a resounding success and California is cruising towards meeting our ambitious 2020 targets.
  2. Second, California needs a post-2020 GHG target to guide the state’s strategy as we strive to avoid and adapt to climate change.
  3. Third and finally, California is not alone in addressing the global threat of climate change but our international leadership is absolutely critical.

AB 32 is working for California and we have only begun to see the many benefits of continuing its implementation.

After decades of leadership on energy efficiency, Californians are paying hundreds of dollars less for electricity than the average American while creating only a fraction of the emissions. CARB research shows we can have the same big win for fuel costs and transportation emissions if we just stick with the existing policies California has developed under AB 32.

This week's hearing was another opportunity for EDF to speak directly to legislators about the importance of carrying out what we’ve all worked so hard to put in place. As a co-sponsor of AB 32, EDF has been closely focused on program implementation since the law was passed, as well as the development of the Scoping Plan Update. There is still much work to be done, but a continued commitment from all decision-makers, including the Legislature, Governor, CARB, and expert agencies will ensure that we stay on a path to the prosperous, low-carbon economy that AB 32 promises.

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