13 Dec

2045: WHERE CALIFORNIA STANDS ON THE ROAD TO ZERO-EMISSIONS

By: Millicent Harrison (Class of 2022)

A New Hope for Renewable Energy

Just under a month ago, California set a very lofty goal, to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2045. This huge change brought about by Kevin de León and Jerry Brown outlines and solidifies California’s economic plan for the next twenty-seven years. To put that into context, most freshmen will be forty-one by the time these goals come to fruition. Unfortunately, the goals set will affect California’s fossil fuel industry, and many residents and local businesses may not be willing or have enough financial backing to switch to renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources such as solar panels and windmills may be becoming more mainstream, but are they affordable and efficient enough to highlight the renewable energy effort?

Accomplishing Weighty Goals

To achieve or not to achieve. Last month, California hosted the Global Climate Action Summit, which kicked off the climate goal of the century. California Governor Jerry Brown made this change possible by signing Senate Bill 100 into law. SB 100 was the brainchild of State Senator Kevin de León, who advocated for this bill for two years. This bill passed legislature on September 10, 2018, as some people had hoped it would. The bill-turned-law states that California must achieve zero carbon emission from electricity by 2045. However, SB 100 only states that electricity must be carbon free. Executive order B-55-18, signed later that day, states that all of California must be greenhouse gas emission-free by 2045. The point is, “electricity only accounts for about 16% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.” (Roberts) This is crucial to understanding how both SB 100 and B-55-18 differentiate from each other, and how they benefit and reinforce their similar policies. The amazing thing is that if this goal is actually pulled off, California, as the “‘world’s fifth largest economy’ will have pulled off the most significant carbon policy commitment ever.” (Roberts)

Some people argue that the technology to make such a giant leap just doesn’t exist yet, and for the moment, their arguments are entirely justified. However important solar, wind, nuclear, and hydropower are for reaching zero emissions, they cannot be the sole technologies California utilizes in upcoming years. The main problem is that the amount of power that comes from these various technologies fluctuates depending on the conditions. If a day is cloudy and cold with little wind, then solar, and wind power will contribute little to the demand for energy that day. Not to mention that people will likely be inside using their heating systems to the maximum. Based on this evidence, the technologies currently being used will not be sufficient enough to provide carbon-free energy for the entire state. In order to succeed in becoming carbon-free, new technologies must either be invented or put to use in the next twenty-seven years.

More Effort Means More Impact

In order for California to meet its goals by 2045 everyone has to pitch in and reduce their carbon footprint. However big or small, every effort counts. Things like turning off lights when not in a room, limiting shower time, and walking or biking places instead of driving are all steps the average person can take toward helping our state. While the law and executive order primarily target businesses and the economy on a larger scale, there is no reason not to try to be more conscious of the energy we use and waste. Going the extra mile to reduce carbon emissions should not be a chore, it should be a habit. More importantly, it should be fun. Exercise, clean living, and spending lots of time outdoors will create a healthier overall population. Without factories, cars, and other industrial businesses belching carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the air, people will be able to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. Reaching zero carbon emissions by 2045 may be a far-fetched goal to some, an outlandish idea, but since when have the boundaries of impossible ever stopped humans from evolving?