Policy Developments

California has long been a leader in innovative energy and climate policies—from the creation of the Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District in 1947 to the passage of the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in 2006 and the 2018 commitment to transition to 100 percent clean energy sources by 2045 (SB 100). The state has led the way as an early adopter of a clean energy future, implementing policies to reduce pollution, improve energy efficiency, and incentivize clean energy and clean technology innovation that have been replicated in both other states and nations. To meet its climate goals moving forward, California will need to build upon this foundation with policies that tackle harder-to-reach emissions reductions, including those from the transportation sector and buildings.

While the events of this year—including the COVID-19 pandemic and another unprecedented wildfire season—have taken center stage in terms of policy priorities, these challenges have also created a new sense of urgency around environmental policy. As the world has been forced to understand and address the links between public health, the environment, and the economy, there has been a marked increase in commitment to address climate change. The current federal administration worked to roll back the nation’s climate progress, but the incoming administration has made clear its intention to prioritize global cooperation and accelerate the transition to a sustainable clean energy economy. As California and the nation look ahead to prospects for policies that help strengthen our economy while protecting our environment, it is worth highlighting how far the state has come. The policies in the subsequent timeline reflect decades of collaboration and innovation to address climate and pollution concerns while simultaneously developing one of the world’s largest economies.


  • Air & Environment

  • Energy Efficiency

  • Clean Transportation

  • Renewable Energy

  • Climate

  • 1st in U.S.

  • United States Policy

  • JANUARY 2021

    President Joe Biden issues Executive Order (13990) requiring all agency heads to review agency activity under the Trump administration that would be considered inconsistent with the Biden administration's environmental policies and consider suspending, revising, or rescinding those actions

    President Joe Biden issues Executive Order (14008) establishing the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy—led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor—and establishing the National Climate Task Force

  • AUGUST 2021

    The California Energy Commission votes to approve the first building code in the nation requiring most homes and buildings statewide be equipped with at least one highly-efficient heat pump for either space heating or water heating, or face higher energy efficiency requirements, beginning January 2023

  • SEPTEMBER 2021

    California passes legislation requiring the state to adopt its first-ever sequestration target on natural and working lands and facilitating the development of sequestration projects that utilize natural and working lands (SB 27)

    California passes legislation requiring the state to adopt a strategy to reduce emissions from the concrete and cement sector by 40% from 2019 to 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2045 (SB 596)

    California passes legislation requiring the California Energy Commission to establish 2030 and 2045 planning goals for electricity generated by offshore wind (AB 525)