In the final week of what became the hottest month in history, it was reported that California is not on track to reach our 2030 climate goals to reduce emissions to 48% below 1990 levels. As we experience more extreme heat, droughts, water scarcity, and intense wildfires, California’s role as a climate leader for the nation and world is called into question.
The city and county of San Diego are doing something the United States and most of the world’s most powerful nations have not: committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2035. That’s the same year Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on gas-powered automobiles sales in California fully kicks in. The governor also has taken action to prohibit new permits for fracking and greatly restricting where new oil and gas drilling can take place. Those are things the U.S. and many big countries have not done, either.
California is on fire. And the wildfires we’ve seen already this year are not just alarming – they’re a forewarning. In 2020 alone, record temperatures and tens of thousands of dry lightning strikes led our state to experience five of its six largest wildfires in recorded history.
State officials threw a lifeline to four fossil fueled power plants along the Southern California coast, deciding the facilities are still needed to provide reliable electricity even as they contribute to the climate crisis.
Tuesday’s vote by the State Water Resources Control Board to let the gas plants keep operating past the end of this year followed brief rolling blackouts over two evenings last month, as a heat wave caused air conditioning demand to soar, and California found itself short on electricity supplies.