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California to ditch fossil fuels and use 100% carbon-free energy by 2045

The US state of California has set a goal of ridding itself of fossil fuels completely by 2045, along with the aim of having half its energy supply be generated by carbon-free renewable sources as soon as 2026

California plans to rely almost exclusively on carbon-free sources of energy and remove all fossil fuels entirely by 2045 under new legislation approved.

Current state law stipulates that Californians must get half of their energy supply from renewable energy – including sources like wind and solar – by 2030, but the new bill passed yesterday (28 August) also moves the deadline for this forward to 2026.

It now sets 2030 as the deadline to 60% of the state’s energy generated by renewable sources, with the requirement for the removal of fossil fuels by 2045 coming with no penalties stated as yet.

Michael Brune, executive director of America’s largest grassroots environmental organisation Sierra Club, said: “This is a pivotal moment for California, for the country, and the world.

“One of the world’s largest economies and millions of homes and business will be powered by 100% by clean, renewable energy by 2045, if not sooner.

“Ongoing wildfires fuelled by record-high temperatures and drier conditions exacerbated by climate change have shown us that we can’t wait any longer to tackle the climate crisis and move to clean energy.

“Moving to a clean energy economy will bring on a new era of prosperity that leaves no workers behind, protects our health and our communities, and creates new jobs and opportunities for people across the country.”

carbon-free
The California State Assembly chamber (Credit: Flickr/A Yee)

The response to California’s move to carbon-free energy

The bill was put forward by Californian democratic senator Kevin de Leon, who is also running for US senate.

It was spurred on by a raft of celebrity endorsements, including former vice-president Al Gore, as well as actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – with actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth also tweeting their support.

Democrats have largely met the new energy bill will approval, hailing it as a way for the state to lead the way in addressing climate change.

California state assemblyman and democrat Bill Quirk said: “We have to be a leader. We have to show what can be done.

“If we can get 100% renewables, others will as well.”

However, some Democrats on the centre of the political spectrum, along with many Republicans, view the new legislation as a threat to the financial security of families unable to cope with the cost of rising energy bills.

Steven Choi, Republican and California state assemblyman, said: “Why would this body double-down and further increase costs on struggling California families?”

Having passed the Californian assembly, Mr de Leon’s bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration of changes – at which point more details are expected to emerge about what it will contain.

California isn’t the first US state to make such a pledge, with the island of Hawaii also making a pledge in June to go carbon-free by 2045.

The Aloha state’s plans, also backed by Schwarzenegger, included eliminating fossil fuels in “ground transportation” by the same year and legislation requiring the rise in sea levels to be considered when proposed developments projects are being scrutinised.