The next seven years are our best chance to prevent a climate crisis catastrophe for our state’s residents. Yet even in the face of this impending deadline, we are incredibly hopeful and optimistic about what our state leaders can do to address this crisis. That is because 2022 was California’s climate comeback year!
Each year, California Environmental Voters evaluates if California is doing enough to fight the climate crisis. We look at the actions of the governor and state legislators. We see how climate legislation fared and if our leaders in Sacramento championed climate solutions or delayed our response to the crisis. And we share this information with voters in our annual California Environmental Scorecard.
In 2021, we assigned California its first “D” grade for inaction on the climate crisis. This near-failing grade reflected that California was not on track to meet its current goals to address climate change and had not passed significant climate legislation in years.
But in 2022, California regained its role as a global climate leader by enacting groundbreaking investments and policies to address the climate crisis. That’s why California has jumped from a D grade (67%) in 2021 to an A- grade (91%) in 2022.
We have much to celebrate from last year, including budget investments in clean transportation, building electrification, clean energy, and resilience as well as a suite of transformative policies on health buffer zones from drilling, accelerated carbon neutrality goals, and first-in-the-world single-use packaging regulation.
A key “win” from 2022 was California’s $54 billion multiyear climate budget. This is a historic investment that gives us a roadmap for addressing the climate crisis in a just and equitable way. It is an opportunity to provide critical funding for green infrastructure, clean energy transmission projects, community resilience centers, offshore wind projects, and much more.
However, the Governor just recently announced a proposed $6 billion cut to this climate budget. This is just the kickoff to a six-month negotiation and we are eager to partner with our allies, the Legislature, and the Governor to build on last year’s progress and show that climate justice is still a priority for our state.
2022 was a year of unprecedented climate action. Now, we need to make sure we sustain this level of leadership and action moving forward. We must build on this momentum and invest in climate solutions at the scale required to turn the tide. We have only a few years left to stop the most severe impacts of the crisis so time is of the essence!
This can – and must – be the start of a new era of climate action in California. In 2023, our state leaders need to ensure long-term, equitable funding to address the climate crisis, continue to push bold policies that transition us off fossil fuels, and hold corporate polluters accountable.
A key priority moving forward will be an aggressive vision and plan from the Governor and Legislature for how California will fund necessary measures to transition our transportation systems and buildings to use clean energy as well as make our communities and landscapes more resilient. We need massive and necessary climate investments through the state budget this year – and every year – to give us even a fighting chance.
As historic as 2022 was, it has to be the beginning of a wave of climate courage from our state leaders. We must act with urgency and at the scale that this crisis demands to lower emissions in the quickest, most equitable way possible. Californians’ health, lives, and livelihoods are all on the line. Let’s launch this new era of climate courage now.