By Kevin de León
Kevin de León is the first Latino elected as President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate. He has a bachelor’s degree in Education by the Pitzer College. He ran for a seat in the Senate of the State of California in 2010 and in 2014 he became the President of the Senate, where he has driven many innovative bills on clean energy and climate change. He is also a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California (USC).
I recently returned from Marrakech, Morocco, where I lead the California state delegation to the United Nation’s 22nd Conference of Parties, the annual meeting of nations focused on addressing climate change. Leaders from across the globe are deeply concerned that under a Donald Trump administration, the United States may drop out of the Paris Agreement and hurt international momentum.
These fears are warranted given President-elect Trump’s backwards views on climate: he has said that man-made climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing non-competitive. But as a leader of America’s most populous state – and its strongest economy – I can tell you with confidence we have no plans to slow or halt our efforts to tackle the existential threat of global warming.
California is well over ten percent (13 percent) of the U.S. economy and we’re committed to moving to a clean energy future. We will continue to use our policies, our purchasing power, and our private sector innovation to help us reach our emissions targets and transform the American energy sector.
There’s no turning back. We just celebrated the ten-year anniversary of AB 32, our foundational climate policy, and we extended our emissions goals to 2030. We’re on track to reduce economy-wide emissions 40% by 2030, while generating at least half of our energy from clean, renewable sources, doubling building energy efficiency and dramatically expanding access to electric vehicles.
We are already feeling the positive economic impacts of these policies, with over half a million clean energy jobs in our state – more than twice as many as the oil and gas industry. The industry is growing six times faster than the state’s economy as a whole. Any effort by the Trump administration to halt our progress would be a job killer.
Meanwhile, the historic drought of the last five years, coupled with record temperatures, wildfires, and smog levels across California, are constant reminders of the need to press forward. Communities across California are suffering from poor air quality, which kills more than twice as many people as traffic accidents, most of them poor people of color. Climate change is a matter of public health, social justice, and economic prosperity. If we do not act, we risk losing on all fronts. The President-elect says he likes to win – here’s one race we’re already leading, and we have the opportunity to gain even more ground on the competition abroad, which would bring back good jobs to the communities who policy. But I can promise that California will keep moving forward. In this state, we still respect facts and science, we believe that clean air is a right, and we know that climate change is an urgent threat. We’re more than ready to fill the leadership void should President-elect Trump choose to bury his head in the sand. haven’t yet felt the benefits of our nation’s economic resurgence.
We plan to coordinate with other states to build on and export our leadership, to maximize the positive impact that we can have. I can’t make any promises or predictions about what a Trump Administration will mean for U.S. climate change, but I can promise that California will keep moving forward.
In this state, we still respect facts and science, we believe that clean air is a right, and we know that climate change is an urgent threat. We’re more than ready to fill the leadership void should President-elect Trump choose to bury his head in the sand.