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 (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 in 2030 and beyond, 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.

Due to record surpluses in 2021 and 2022, the California budget included a record $54 billion in state funding over a number of years, as the economy continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a budget deficit in 2023, most of the funding for climate was maintained. 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 Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) 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 new planned 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

  • Energy Efficiency

  • Clean Transportation

  • Renewable Energy

  • Climate

  • 1st in U.S.

  • United States Policy

  • MARCH 2023

    The Biden administration approved California’s waiver under the federal Clean Air Act that allows the state to become the first in the world to require zero-emissions technology for trucks. The Clean Truck Partnership comes as California prepares for implementation of its landmark rules that put in place a phased-in transition toward 100% sales and use of zero-emissions technology for medium- and-heavy duty vehicles under CARB’s Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets rule by 2045.

  • SEPTEMBER 2023

    California passed legislation that will require 100% of all newly purchased or contracted school buses of a school district, county office of education, or charter school to be zero-emission vehicles, where feasible, by 2035 (AB 579).

    President Joe Biden established the Climate Corps program, aimed at training and employing young people to help speed the clean energy transition.

  • OCTOBER 2023

    California passed legislation to support zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure deployment for light-duty cars and medium- and heavy-duty trucks, requiring that 50% of funding be spent on programs and projects that directly benefit or serve residents of disadvantaged and low-income communities (AB 126).

    California passed legislation giving the state Department of Water Resources the authority to procure clean power when needed, under the direction of the Public Utilities Commission, including through offshore wind, geothermal and long duration storage. Additionally, it seeks to support offshore wind development by allocating $6 million to conduct monitoring and research into potential impacts of floating offshore wind projects (AB 1373).

    California passed legislation that outlaws the use of potable water for nonfunctional grass at commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional properties. The ban will take effect in phases between 2027 and 2031 and includes exceptions for grass in sports fields, parks, cemeteries, areas used for activities, and other “community spaces" (AB 1572).

    California passed legislation requiring the commission, in consultation with the State Lands Commission, other specified state entities, and the California Coastal Commission, to develop a 2nd-phase plan and strategy for seaport readiness that builds upon the recommendations and alternatives in the strategic plan for offshore wind energy developments, as specified (AB 3).

  • OCTOBER 2023

    California passed legislation that requires the State Air Resources Board to establish an embodied carbon trading system, applicable to building materials providers, developers, architectural and engineering firms, and construction companies that allows projects that fall below the baseline to "sell" credits to those that fail to meet the requirements, thereby incentivizing low-carbon and even carbon-storing buildings (AB 43).

    The United States Department of Energy announced that California will receive up to $1.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate the development and deployment of clean renewable hydrogen, critical to cutting pollution and expanding the clean energy economy statewide.

    California passed the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act which requires large public and private US-based organizations that do business in California to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the GHG Protocol (SB 253).

    California passed the Climate-Related Financial Risk Act, requires large corporations to prepare and submit an annual climate-related financial risk report, publicly disclosing their climate-related financial risks and the measures they’re taking to mitigate these risks (SB 261).

  • OCTOBER 2023

    California passed SB 337 that established the 30x30 goal that seeks to protect 30 percent of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030, to avoid the worst impacts from climate change and reverse the extinction crisis. This bill is consistent with Executive Order N-82-20 (EO N-82-20) signed by Governor Newsom in 2020 and will ensure that the goal is established in statute so that it persists until 2030, which is past the Governor’s term (SB 337).

    California passed the Powering Up Californians Act, to address long delays in connecting vehicle charging infrastructure to the electrical grid so California can decarbonize its transportation sector. This is essential to realize the climate and health benefits of rules like Advanced Clean Fleets and Advanced Clean Trucks (SB 410).

    California passed legislation that directs the state’s Energy Commission to develop a strategy to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in commercial buildings of over 50,000 square feet (SB 48).

  • OCTOBER 2023

    California passed legislation that directs state agencies to evaluate the potential for solar energy, battery storage and transmission infrastructure alongside highways to help California meet its clean energy targets, establishing a process for entities to operate and build this renewable energy infrastructure within state-owned rights-of-way (SB 49).

    California passed this bill that requires industrial battery facilities, which are essentially power plants that store electricity from solar farms and other renewable energy sources to be used at night, to draw up emergency response and community notification plans and submit them to the counties in which they are located (SB 38).