California has positioned itself to lead the battle against climate change by cutting emissions. In August 2018, California showed the world that moving to 100% clean energy is within our reach. California lawmakers voted 43-32 in favour of the legislation requiring 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. In other words, all electricity will have to come from renewable energy sources. In addition, the bill also demands that electric utilities source 60% of their power from renewable energy sources by 2030, up from the current target of 50%. It was authored by state senator Kevin de Leon, who called it a “victory for clean air. It’s a victory to tackle climate change and the devastation that it’s leaving in its wake.”

“This is landmark legislation that is helping to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. We need it more than ever because the state and the world are starting to see the devastating impacts of climate change,” said Dan Jacobson, state director for Environment California, an environmental advocacy group.

California has already reduced its emissions to their lowest level since 1990 and reached its 2020 target four years earlier. The state currently gets about 44% of its power from renewables and hydropower. California has always been a pioneer in the energy transition. In 2017, $2.5 billion was invested in clean energy technology in the United States with 57.2 % going to California’s companies. In addition, 2018 California Green Innovation Index (a report published by non-profit research organization Next 10) reveals that about 47 % of all electric vehicles ever sold in the US were sold in California. In 2018, California became the first in the U.S. to require solar panels on all new homes beginning in 2020 and introduced a bill that would make California the first state to restrict the use of plastic straws in restaurants. Now, California becomes the second US state, after Hawaii, to call for carbon-free electricity.

Bruce Nilles, a senior fellow at the non-profit Rocky Mountain Institute, said: “Setting the goal has just been, over and over again, so very important. Because then that sends a very clear message to investors, to entrepreneurs, to our research facilities: Okay, let’s get it done. Let’s do it in the cleanest, cheapest, most equitable way possible.”

Given the complexity of the energy transition, opponents (PG&E Corp., Edison International and Sempra Energy) raised concerns that the requirement would increase electricity costs. In addition, in order to meet the target, California would need to significantly increase its energy-storage capacity.