Accelerating the timeline for climate action in California

Daniel M. Kammen, Teenie Matlock, Manuel Pastor, David Pellow, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Tom Steyer, Leah Stokes, Feliz Ventura
March 13, 2021

The climate emergency increasingly threatens our communities, ecosystems, food production, health, and economy. It disproportionately impacts lower income communities, communities of color, and the elderly. Assessments since the 2018 IPCC 1.5 Celsius report show that current national and sub-national commitments and actions are insufficient. Fortunately, a suite of solutions exists now to mitigate the climate crisis if we initiate and sustain actions today. California, which has a strong set of current targets in place and is home to clean energy and high technology innovation, has fallen behind in its climate ambition compared to a number of major governments. California, a catalyst for climate action globally, can and should ramp up its leadership by aligning its climate goals with the most recent science, coordinating actions to make 2030 a point of significant accomplishment. This entails dramatically accelerating its carbon neutrality and net-negative emissions goal from 2045 to 2030, including advancing clean energy and clean transportation standards, and accelerating nature-based solutions on natural and working lands. It also means changing its current greenhouse gas reduction goals both in the percentage and the timing: cutting emissions by 80 percent (instead of 40 percent) below 1990 levels much closer to 2030 than 2050. These actions will enable California to save lives, benefit underserved and frontline communities, and save trillions of dollars. This rededication takes heed of the latest science, accelerating equitable, job-creating climate policies. While there are significant challenges to achieving these goals, California can establish policy now that will unleash innovation and channel market forces, as has happened with solar, and catalyze positive upward-scaling tipping points for accelerated global climate action.

Featured Fellows

Daniel Kammen

Energy and Resources Group, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley
Faculty Affiliate