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 (SB100). 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 the last two years—including the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme heat waves that threaten the reliability of the grid—have taken center stage in terms of policy priorities here in California, there have also been positive developments. The federal government passed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, directing a historic investment of $369 billion toward electrifying transportation and buildings while expanding renewable energy generation over the next 10 years. Recent international climate negotiations at the UN conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt demonstrated global concern for the climate, and included new international commitments, including new restrictions on emissions of methane. In California, there is still room for policy innovation in the clean energy and climate spaces, but some recent developments hold promise, such as increased offshore wind generation, clean vehicle infrastructure expansion and investment, and climate resiliency.
As California and the nation look ahead to prospects of policies that help strengthen our economy while protecting our environment, it is worth highlighting how far the state and nation 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
1st in U.S.
United States Policy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the Clean Trucks Plan reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks by requiring new emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks by model year 2027
President Joe Biden signs the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) bill into law which authorizes $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastruture with roughly $158 billion dedicated toward climate-related investments
California passes legislatuon establishing a new community renewable energy program to overcome clean energy access barriers impacting nearly half of Californians who rent or have low incomes (AB 2316)
The Joe Biden administration proposes new standards for its program to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 by establishing the groundwork for states to build charging station projects that are accessible to all drivers regardless of the location, EV brand, or charging company
The California Air Resouces Board approves landmark rules to phase out the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars, SUVs, minivans, and pickups in the state by 2035, starting with requiring 35% of all new passenger vehicles that auto companies offer for sale in California to be zero-emission starting in 2026
President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law, the largest federal investment in climate to-date with $369 billion for programs tackling climate change in the form of tax incentives and rebates, clean energy manufacturing jobs, and pollution reduction over the next 10 years
California passes legislation codifying the state’s existing goal of carbon neutrality by 2045 (AB 1279)
California passes legislation to set interim targets for renewable energy generation by requiring 90% of retail electricity to be fueled by renewablesby 2035 and by 95% by 2040 ahead of the existing target of 100% by 2045 (SB 1020)
California passes legislation to keep the state's last nuclear power plant in Diablo Canyon operational until 2030 instead of decommissioning it by 2025 (SB 846)
President Joe Biden signs legislation ratifying the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol requiring participating nations to phase down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, also known as HFCs, by 85% over the next 14 years
President Joe Biden announces measures to restrict methane emissioons, including by requiring oil-and-gas companies to monitor production facilities for methane leaks and repair them, at the COP27 international climate conference
California hosts the first ever auction on the West Coast for leases to build wind farms off California’s coast on five sites totaling 583 square miles of deep ocean waters