Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SB 350 and SB 32: One step forward...

The California Assembly had a chance to push California strongly forward towards the solar conversion, but declined to do so.

Senate Bills 350 and 32 would have done four things to help the progress of the conversion:

1) 350 would have required California electrical utilities to get 50% of their juice from renewable sources by 2030.

2) 350 would have required a 50% increase in the energy efficiency of our existing buildings by 2030.

3) 350 would have reduced the amount of gasoline burned in California by half by 2030.

4) 32 would have required California to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels, reaching that goal by 2030.

Of those four things, the Assembly went along with the first two. So that's a win. But the goal of reducing gasoline reduction was just dropped entirely from the bill and SB 32 was defeated.

It's disappointing, but I can't feel too bad. If we have a compromise like this every year, then we'll be doing fine. The glass is half-full, and we can just get ready to try for that other half next year.

Here is Grist's summary of what happened.

The Political Clout of the Renewable Energy Industry

Grist is reporting on a new article in Science, "Winning Coalitions for Climate Policy." Unfortunately, Science requires paid access so I won't be able to read it until I get down to the library, but Grist's writeup makes it sound interesting.

The main point is that measures which build up the renewable energy industry, such as subsidies for rooftop solar and requiring utilities to get a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, build up a constituency for renewable energy which will then provide the political muscle for measures such as carbon pricing. In other words, if you offer the carrot first, you are much more likely to get to the stick later.

This has certainly been the case in Germany, where generous prices paid for renewable energy has built an enormous body of support for anti-carbon policies.

You can find the Grist article here.