Opinion

A roadmap for meaningful climate action in 2024

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OPINION – As the fifth largest economy in the world, California has an outsized responsibility to create the policy roadmap for global climate action. Polling shows that Californians, across party lines and demographics, want state leaders to prioritize protecting them from extreme heat, fires, flood, drought, and pollution. But it still takes years to pass common-sense climate policies in Sacramento. That’s because California is one of the top oil-producing states in the country with corporate polluters funneling around $34 million into lobbying, outspending environmental advocacy by far.

But there’s good news. The California Environmental Scorecard was released this week, and we’re excited to report that the number of legislators directly taking oil contributions has dropped from 63% in 2022 to 52% in 2023! This is a clear reflection that the new class of legislators elected last November know 79% of voters across party lines are more likely to support elected officials that don’t take oil and gas money.

Here’s why this matters: the average score of legislators who take oil money is 41%, while the average score of legislators who don’t is 96%. These numbers give us clarity on what’s holding our state back from creating a clean energy, resilient, and climate just future.

Coming off of the biggest year of climate action in California’s history in 2022, EnviroVoters is excited to announce our California Environmental Scorecard results for 2023.

This year, California had some momentous victories, including SB 253SB 261, the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, and a few more, that are going to steer global market forces toward clean energy and electrification. At the same time, our state undermined its own success with some devastating anti-environmental actions: cutting climate budget investments, extending fossil gas plants, expanding the Aliso Canyon storage facilityweakening environmental protection laws through the trailer bill process, and vetoing eleven critical climate bills. 2023 was a year of progress, but it was two steps forward and one step back with California’s overall climate action score dropping from an “A” to a “B”.

The California Environmental Scorecard was released this week, and we’re excited to report that the number of legislators directly taking oil contributions has dropped from 63% in 2022 to 52% in 2023!

Every year, we have to ask more from our governmental leaders than we’ve ever had to. Californians have been pummeled with disasters every season for the last few years, and for Black, Indigenous, and people of color – for generations. And now we are facing an  El Nino year.

But here’s the thing: during any economic downtown, infrastructure investments are a key solution the government invests in to create jobs and grow our economy. Funding the transition to clean energy and resilience will make our economy more robust, advance public health outcomes, and protect communities from climate impacts. Here’s where our leaders need to go big this year:

Continuing to finance the transition: Restoring and expanding the climate budget, a $15 billion climate bond, and initiatives like 30×30, water conservation, and urban greening

Building and transportation electrification: Adopting a strategy, with milestones to reduce emissions from buildings, prioritizing neighborhood decarbonization programs, rapidly expanding transit, and advancing active transportation infrastructure

Grid regionalization: Taking steps to regionalize now, so we don’t risk being left behind while the rest of the western states move forward

Moving agriculture to net neutrality: Preserving ecosystems and biodiversity and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our food production systems

Workforce transition and protection: Creating good-paying union jobs in sustainable industries is critical to prevent further harm, create new job opportunities, and foster economic resilience

Protecting communities at home: Prioritizing environmental justice policy while making strides globally

This is a critical electoral year for democracy, so we know our leaders are going to be paying attention to voter sentiment. Californians are ready for our leaders to make the tough decisions, big investments, and hold corporate polluters accountable.

Check out our full 2023 Scorecard to find what scores your legislator, the Governor, Assembly Speaker, and Senate President’s got for their work in 2023.

Let’s make 2024 a year of big steps forward and no steps back.

Mary Creasman is the CEO for California Environmental Voters

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