Jun 18, 2024

Tucked in a recent report on California’s 2030 climate goals was an eyebrow-raising quote.

Liane Randolph, chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), told CalMatters:

“The challenge is that we need all of our programs to be effective and reduce emissions as laid out in the Scoping Plan. We need each program to perform as well as or better than identified in the Scoping Plan in order to achieve our goals.”

Better than the Scoping Plan? That’s a high bar. After all, Governor Newsom has boasted that the plan contains “the most ambitious set of climate goals of any jurisdiction in the world,” promising “a transformation akin to the industrial revolution.”

Reporting on the plan has stated that it “could transform Californians’ everyday lives,” noting that it will effectively require Californians to drive electric cars, companies to transport goods on electric trucks, homeowners to replace gas appliances for electric versions, and utilities to massively expand grid capacity as more aspects of life depend on electricity.

In addition, the plan calls for California to deploy carbon removal technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) on a massive scale to reach carbon neutrality by 2045. Without CCS, California will fall far short of decarbonization.

But, as CalMatters notes, multiple independent analyses show that California is already falling behind on meeting its climate goals. In response, a CARB spokesperson said that climate programs “take time” because they have to “translate into projects and action in the real world.”

Indeed, Sacramento appears to be realizing the immensity of what it has proposed in pursuit of climate leadership. Changing how the world’s fifth-largest economy produces and consumes energy is a massively complicated undertaking – and costs a lot of money.

In addition to the analyses showing California falling behind on emission reductions, there are other troubling signs for climate policymaking in Sacramento:

The CARB spokesperson is right: California’s energy transition needs time to succeed. Blindly pursuing more mandates and faster timelines without implementation plans or funding is not climate leadership – it’s economic self-destruction.

Climate action is necessary, but energy policies are not zero-sum. California can produce more of the energy our state needs right here at home if we maintain current capacities while we build out the infrastructure necessary for a lower carbon economy.

An all-of-the-above energy strategy – one that leverages our wind, solar, nuclear, and hydroelectric resources alongside oil and gas – can keep energy costs affordable for California families and businesses throughout the energy transition.