California Energy To Go 100% Sustainable by 2045. Is It Enough?

Miya Yoshitani of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network says California Governor Brown must do more than sign SB100 to curb climate change and protect vulnerable communities

California Energy To Go 100% Sustainable by 2045. Is It Enough?

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Story Transcript

DHARNA NOOR: As the East Coast braces for a historic hurricane, California Governor Jerry Brown says he will do whatever it takes to fight climate change. But some are wondering if he’s prepared to go far enough.

JERRY BROWN: California is committed to doing whatever is necessary to meet the existential threat of climate change. And yes, it is an existential threat. No matter what the naysayers may say, it is a real present danger to California and to the people of the world.

DHARNA NOOR: On Monday, the same day that the Trump administration rolled back regulations on methane, one of the most potent fossil fuels, Governor Brown signed a mandate requiring the state’s power sector to completely wean itself off fossil fuels by 2045. The law, which was passed by the state legislature last month, requires the state’s utilities to store 60 percent of their power from renewable energy by the end of 2030- an increase from a prior goal of 50 percent.

It also states that by 2045 all of the state’s electricity must come from renewable or other zero-carbon sources.

MIYA YOSHITANI: This is actually, in terms of the bill that just passed, it’s a 10 percent increase on where we were already heading. So I don’t know if that’s ambitious, but it is progress.

DHARNA NOOR: Miya Yoshitani is the executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

MIYA YOSHITANI: We’re excited to get to the 100 percent goal. The real question that we have is how are we going to do that, and is that transition to 100 percent clean energy in the electricity sector in California going to be a just transition. Meaning is that transition going to actually bring health benefits and the economic benefits that are needed in the frontline communities who have been facing the brunt of the extractive economy pollution? Is that, is that 100 percent transition going to benefit those communities?

DHARNA NOOR: Brown signed the bill days before the Global Climate Action Summit, a gathering of civic and business leaders from around the world aiming to ensure the goals of the Paris climate accord are met. But on Tuesday, a coalition of organizers called It Takes Root held another summit, the Solutions to Solidarity summit. They think the Global Climate Action Summit won’t do enough to fight climate change.

MIYA YOSHITANI: Our main critique what the the solutions that are being proposed there is that they’re kind of wrapped in market solutions, lacking creativity of anything else beyond what folks in that sector think can be both voluntary and a market incentive. And that’s just not enough for, for what we actually need. So you know, we think that there’s, there’s a lot of great ideas that are probably part of what people are bringing to that. But what’s really being elevated is the governor’s leadership, or the governor’s footprint on California climate policy. And for that it’s been mostly market mechanisms.

DHARNA NOOR: Instead Miya says they want solutions that will prioritize those most affected by the extractive economy.

MIYA YOSHITANI: We want a direct reduction of emissions at the source. So where there are polluters like the Chevron refinery in Richmond in the city of Richmond, we want the pollution coming out of those smokestacks to be reduced and to end. So that’s number one. We want the greatest emission reductions to happen at the source. We want the- and on the other side of the managed decline of the extractive industry in California, we want the investment of public dollars and private investments in renewable energy that is owned and built by and for local communities who’ve been on the front lines.

DHARNA NOOR: Brown is known for supporting sustainable energy like solar and electric vehicles. But his administration has also approved 20,000 new oil and gas contracts since 2011.

For The Real News, Dharna Noor, San Francisco.