Senate Bill 32 And The Birth Of My Civic Consciousness

The opinions represented in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the stance or opinion of Civinomics.

Photo Courtesy of AMGEN

Photo Courtesy of AMGEN

I can still remember the day my grandparents took me to see An Inconvenient Truth at the Raven Movie Theatre in Santa Rosa. I must have been 11 or 12 at the time, and was very much impressionable. I still remember that scene, you know the one, where Al Gore has to use the mechanical lift to reach the point on his chart that shows total C02 emissions, and that sort of sinking feeling I got when it dawned upon me how much trouble we were really in. Fast forward a little under 15 years and here I am reading a brief on Senate Bill 32, the latest piece of statewide legislation mandating the reduction of C02 emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Before reading further, I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying that I’d like to share with you my personal thoughts about an issue that I consider formative in my decision to commit my career to the civic process and one that still motivates me to this day.

People say that government can’t do anything quickly… Brevity aside, it is pretty incredible to think since the movie’s release most of the countries in the world have met together multiple times, extensively studying this problem, and signed international agreements to address the issue of Anthropogenic Climate Change. Yet California is the only state in the union to pass binding legislation in accordance with these international agreements. And our state continues to lead, as this new legislation will further cement our commitment to the rest of our world and our environment.

In 2006, as I worked to pass a bio-diesel commuter train in my hometown at the age of 16, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Assembly Bill 32, otherwise known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. This landmark piece of legislation committed the state and its entire economy to reducing our Greenhouse Gas Emissions by close to 25 percent by the year 2020, or, said another way, maintain our emissions levels as they were in 1990. This included steep new regulations on fuel efficiency, incentives for the renewable energy industry, new policy tools for system-wide purchasing of renewable energy, a cap and trade system on Carbon emissions, and much more.

The results, despite being bemoaned by many a naysayer, have proven largely successful. Our fuel efficiency standards, once thought controversial, have since been adopted nationwide and now dictate the majority of newly made American cars. Our renewable energy portfolio standard has created a genuine market demand for renewable energy that is not only quantifiable but also tangible to everyday citizens. Combine that with the incentives offered to our renewable energy industry, and California now leads the nation in clean-energy venture capital investment and the creation of clean-energy companies. And finally, according to a recently released study conducted by the state Air Resources Board, California is on track to meet its 2020 emissions goals, something I would have actually bet against had you asked me 4 years ago while studying the legislation in college (so much for my cynicism).

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My point is that I grew up with this movement, and have participated in seeing through our reaction to this grave problem through local, personal action, while always looking upward. By committing to these standards yet again, and working to reduce our emissions by 80 percent by 2050, we can continue the legacy we started 2006. In my view, legislation such this will help pave the way for new environmental stewardship and activism. Legislation like this will inspire an entire new generation to become innovative while also realizing their limitations, to solve problems in ways we could never anticipate, while also creating new challenges for the future. It’s part of what keeps me interested in politics and what initially provoked my engagement. These frameworks are what create the capacity for change by defining the metrics for success.

Now the above may seem a bit romanticized, and it is, but I mean what I say whole-heartedly. To me the Climate Crisis is real, and thus the importance of dealing with its repercussions are equally real. That doesn’t mean I support this legislation 100 percent, but I support it enough, in its entirety, to support its passage now.

The California legislature will soon decide on SB32. Vote below and add your own commentary, or click through and read more about the bill. And if you oppose this legislation, by all means lay out the counter arguments. Either way, please participate. I know this is the fight that inspired me.

SB 32 – Reduce California Emissions To 80% Below 1990 Levels

California’s landmark environmental law, AB 32 of 2006, required the state to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.


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