Category Archives: Politics

Lima Climate Talks Showcase Another Path to Global Climate Action: Through States, Provinces and Cities

California state Senate President Kevin de León arrives at the conference center for the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. Image used with permission from Senator de León.

California state Senate President Kevin de León arrives at the conference center for the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. Image used with permission from Senator de León.

The chattering classes of the climate policy world are abuzz with their customary post-mortems following the latest breathless two-week session of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change 20th Conference of Parties (also known simply as COP 20), held in Lima, Peru.

Consensus is forming around a “slightly better than nothing” assessment of the Lima Call for Climate Action, which was adopted in the wee hours of Sunday amidst the usual skirmishes over money, monitoring, and mandates.

Lima clarified some of the expected content of the national pledges (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” INDCs in COP shorthand) to be presented by all countries next year.

Notwithstanding the softness engendered by the word “intended,” at least we aren’t firmly stuck in the “old world order” where only developed countries are taking on mitigation actions.

Subnational cooperation and pathways to climate progress outside UN process

While nations squabbled about intentions, another story was playing out on the sidelines of the COP, showcasing real, groundbreaking and consequential progress at the subnational level – within states, provinces, and cities. Read More »

Also posted in Climate, General, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Leave a comment

California Clean Energy Bill Could Open Door for Homeowners and Small Businesses

small__4538043361

Source: Flickr/constellationenergy

Governor Brown has the opportunity to make energy-saving upgrades possible for families and small business owners by signing Assembly Bill 1883 (Nancy Skinner- Berkeley). This bill would significantly lower the cost of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a tool which enables property owners to take advantage of energy efficiency and rooftop solar PV for their homes or buildings with no money down, allowing them to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill.

AB 1883 would streamline the PACE process and drive down the fixed transactional costs associated with commercial projects. Lowering these transaction costs is especially important for small businesses because high transaction costs can reduce the economic viability of the smaller energy upgrades that small business typically need. AB 1883 also incorporates new options for financing rooftop solar PV through PACE, which will enable a greater number of homeowners and small businesses to qualify for cost-saving solar PV contracts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid| Comments closed

As California’s Legislative Session Ends, Key Environmental Protections Begin

Source: Flickr/jjkbach

Source: Flickr/jjkbach

Anna Doty contributed to this post.

A quick look back at California’s 2014 legislative agenda, which closed in the early morning hours of August 30th, shows it certainly was one for the record books. California took up major efforts to cut climate pollution and portion out billions in new investments, modernize the electric grid, and take on other not-so-small issues such as phasing out plastic bags. This activity happened while California led the nation in a remarkable economic rebound, continued to deal with an epic drought, and combatted the worst air quality in the U.S.

Among the many environmental issues in the spotlight this year, climate change, air quality, clean energy, water, and waste lead the pack.

Implementing a climate protection framework worthy of acclaim

On climate, lawmakers turned a corner by affirming the state’s commitment to AB 32 and green-lighting a new era of pollution reducing investments from the state’s world-class cap-and-trade regulation. Keeping transportation fuels within cap and trade starting January 2015 remained a main focus, with lawmakers facing and rebuffing numerous attempts by regulated industries and other legislators to undermine and delay the state’s landmark program. Throughout the session, lawmakers remained strong, demonstrating a commitment to the state’s growing clean economy and the need to capture the huge savings in health and fuel costs AB 32 will provide. Read More »

Also posted in Auction revenue, Cap and trade, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Transportation| Comments closed

Lo que la creciente comunidad latina podría lograr para las políticas del cambio climático

rp_DSC_0012-Version-3-200x300.jpgTo read this post in English, click here.

En el 2012, los latinos fueron 1 de cada 10 votantes y ayudaron a decidir las elecciones presidenciales, estableciendo un margen récord de votantes.  El mes pasado en California, el estado más populoso de Estados Unidos, la población hispana sobrepasó la de blancos no hispanos.   El único otro estado a llegar a este punto es Nuevo México, cuya población hispana-latina es casi un diez por ciento mayor que la de blancos no hispanos.

Así como la población latina continúa a crecer en todo el país, así crece su influencia en áreas de política claves.  En aquellos estados que son campos de batalla de las elecciones, como Florida, Colorado y Nevada, los latinos representaron el 17, 14 y 18 por ciento de votantes en el 2012, respectivamente, lo que refleja un aumento con relación a elecciones anteriores.  La tendencia ha reavivado una animada discusión sobre la influencia de la comunidad latina estadounidense, el “gigante dormido” en la política del país.

También hay una tendencia política menos reconocida que está surgiendo entre los grupos más jóvenes y de más rápido crecimiento: la demanda entre latinos para actuar con el fin de hacerle frente al cambio climático.  Según una nueva encuesta nacional publicada el mes pasado por Natural Resources Defense Council y Latino Decisions: Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Engaging Latinos, Jobs| Comments closed

Historic Agreement Demonstrates Broad Commitment to Build Clean Energy Economy

With the stroke of a pen, North American efforts to combat climate change and promote clean energy reached a new level today.

I was lucky enough to witness the historic event, as Governor Jerry Brown joined the leaders of Oregon, Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia, to sign an agreement that formally aligns climate and clean energy policies in the four jurisdictions.

This signing by these “Fab Four” of the Pacific Coast Collaborative makes sense given all they have in common: they’re geographically connected, share infrastructure, and their combined regional economy accounts for a $2.8 trillion GDP, making it the world’s fifth largest economy.

Beyond the symbolic nature of today’s announcement, the event signals California’s far-reaching influence on energy and climate policy development.

Once labeled the “go it alone” state, California is now succeeding with its “lead by example” approach.

What has driven this success? Most recently, the Golden State established the world’s most comprehensive cap-and-trade program, a proven and sensible environmental and economic approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Once considered a “grand experiment,” its early success has helped to establish a strong, viable market and spur interest from around the world.

Today was no exception, as business, labor and environmental leaders from all four jurisdictions joined the signing, signifying a strong regional commitment to putting a price on carbon, using market mechanisms to spur a clean economy and reduce pollution on a regional scale.

The agreement is also further proof that strong climate and clean energy policies are tied to economic benefits, creating a large market for innovators and low-carbon businesses in the region. California is on the brink of linking its cap-and-trade program with Quebec’s; making the two states’ carbon allowances interchangeable and showing growing carbon market momentum.

Today’s event is a beacon of hope for national and global action to fight climate change.  While the four parties in this agreement are in different stages in putting a price on carbon, their combined commitment is a positive sign and further impetus for regional and international collaboration. The vision of these four leaders – along with California’s proven record of success – makes me very optimistic that we are on the right path.

Also posted in Cap and trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Linkage| Comments closed

Environment: California didn't do so badly this year

(This post was written for and first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News)

By Lauren Faber and Ann Notthoff 

Despite some particularly unexplainable losses if you care about protecting the environment, the California Legislature made progress in 2013. The range of bills on the governor's desk awaiting his signature confirms that California remains the stalwart energy and climate leader in the country.

This legislative session was a turning point: More than half of the members of the Assembly were freshmen, Democrats enjoyed a two-thirds supermajority in both houses and the state budget swung back into the black. This new era has ushered in fresh opportunities for clean energy investment, sustainable transportation and consumer protections from dirty, expensive energy production and consumption.

While "A Bad Year in Sacramento for Environmental Measures" (San Jose Mercury News Page 1A, Sept. 15) identified missed environmental opportunities, there were significant achievements this year along with efforts that will be taken up in January during the second half of the two-year legislative season.

Newly passed legislation, AB 217 (Bradford), will expand renewable energy, extending the state's low-income solar programs to ensure the benefits of solar reach all Californians. Further, a "Green Tariff" program was created through SB 43 (Wolk) to allow customers of the state's largest utilities to purchase up to 100 percent renewable electricity. These efforts wean the state off dirty fossil fuels, benefiting public health, and give customers choices.

The state also doubled down on its commitment to sustainable transportation with the passing of AB 8 (Perea), an expansive effort to strengthen California's alternative fuel and clean vehicles programs; SB 811 (Lara), a bill to protect disadvantaged communities and mitigate the impact of the Highway 710 expansion; and SB 359 (Corbett), which helps clean the air by providing incentives to drive plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

In addition, California became the first state to adopt a major consumer protection bill aimed directly at deterring gas price manipulation and establishing recommendations for combating volatile gas prices with SB 448 (Leno). This oversight creates a more transparent market that helps alternative, lower-carbon fuels thrive and reduces emissions from transportation, the sector contributing most to climate change in California.

Big oil spent a lot of money in Sacramento this year but still lost some fights and may be left feeling it needs to review its playbook. The Legislature passed a suite of bills to regulate the oil industry. In addition to SB 448, lawmakers moved legislation to ensure a skilled workforce is processing oil at our refineries in SB 54 (Hancock), and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag for oil and gas drilling accidents with SB 665 (Wolk).

All told, key legislation passed in 2013 will account for nearly $1.3 billion of clean energy investment over the next five years, with an additional $3 billion mandated by voters and the Public Utilities Commission.

However, policies are only as good as the leader who signs them into law.

Gov. Jerry Brown has made climate change a focal point of his administration. We are counting on him to uphold that commitment and make these new bills the law of the land. Doing so will continue California's legacy of innovative policies that move our environment and economy forward and improve public health.

While we have a long way to go, most newly elected members are off to a positive start, standing up for consumers, health and the environment — a powerful message coming from a Legislature that will define the next generation of California's environmental leadership.

Lauren Faber is the West Coast political director for the Environmental Defense Fun, and Ann Notthoff is the California advocacy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32| Comments closed
  • About this blog

    How California can leverage market-based environmental policies to revitalize its economy, protect its quality of life and retain a leading edge in global innovation.

    EDF's work in California »

  • Categories

  • Get blog posts by email

    Subscribe via RSS