California Climate Leadership: Powering the new economy

SB 32: Maintaining Economic Growth through Climate Pollution Reduction

Author: Senator Fran Pavley

To promote a stronger economy and healthier communities by setting a long-term climate pollution target.

California’s bipartisan leadership on clean energy and air quality spans the last fifty years through multiple administrations and legislatures.  The most recent chapter began in 2002 with the passage of the Clean Cars Law, which became the national standard for reducing climate pollution from automobiles.  The bill ushered in a host of new fuel-saving vehicle choices for drivers and helped revitalize the U.S. auto industry. 

Then in 2006, California lawmakers voted to include other sectors in the state’s climate program, such as power and petroleum, by setting a 2020 pollution goal.  California is on track to meet or exceed its 2020 goal.  In the process of reducing pollution, the state has attracted over $27 billion in private investment, and now more than 400,000 Californians work for clean energy businesses—from engineers and accountants, to construction workers and truck drivers, to administrative professionals.  The policies being implemented to achieve this goal are projected to reduce pollution-related health costs by $8.3 billion over the next decade.  Meanwhile, our increasingly diversified energy system remains reliable and affordable.  Thanks to multiple consumer-friendly climate policies, such as building and appliance standards, the average residential electrical bill has dropped $44 since 2006 (when adjusted for inflation), and the average Californian spends $305 less overall on energy each year than the national average.

SB 32 builds on California’s proven model of growing the economy through pollution reduction by extending the climate pollution reduction target to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which the California Air Resources Board has determined to be not only technologically feasible, but scientifically necessary to stave off the costliest effects of climate change.  This target is guided by science and this bill provides the flexibility to adjust strategies to meet the target based on changing technological and economic conditions.  SB 32 is also designed to integrate with complementary policies—such as standards for renewable power, energy efficiency in buildings, and petroleum reductions—to achieve four goals: job creation, improved public health, technology innovation and regional policy collaboration.

Setting a clear, achievable climate pollution reduction target and identifying priorities to guide implementation will provide critical government accountability, as well as certainty to businesses investing in California for the long term.  SB 32 builds on the state’s competitive advantage as a technology and policy leader, while the federal government, international trading partners such as China and Mexico, and neighboring states begin charting their own pathways to a low carbon economic future.

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