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California State Assembly to vote on carbon-free energy future

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A committee of the California State Assembly has revived a delayed proposal which will require the Golden State to aim to entirely generate its energy from carbon-free sources by 2045.

“100 per cent of total retail sales of electricity in California [must] come from eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources by December 31 2045,” the bill states.

The proposal has suffered delays since being introduced by the former Senate President in January 2017, having become stuck in Assembly committees for months. The Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee voted 10-5 in favour of the proposal, encouraged by the written support of 38,000 activists.

Across the US, state lawmakers have been forced to step up to continue to reduce local carbon emissions in order to continue honouring the Paris Agreement of 2015 – which aimed to reduce worldwide carbon emissions in order to prevent global average temperatures rising beyond 2°C above pre-industrial levels – following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

Californian lawmakers have long supported environmentally progressive polices which seek to mitigate climate change. While gas plants provide for the majority of energy needs in the state, California has a strong hydroelectric power base and has invested in solar power, wind power and geothermal power. Just one coal-fired plant remains in operation. The state has already laid out renewable energy goals and aims to obtain a third of its energy from renewable sources by 2021, 40 per cent by 2025, 45 per cent by 2028 and 50 per cent by the end of 2030.

The proposal will now pass to the Assembly for a vote. If approved by the full Assembly, it will go on to the long-serving Governor of California, Jerry Brown, who is expected to approve it.

If the plans go ahead, the state will be required to raise its current goal of 50 per cent energy from renewable sources by 2030 to 60 per cent by 2030. By 2045, the state would need to source all its energy from renewable sources and possibly other sources – such as nuclear fission – which do not emit carbon dioxide.

Hawaii pledged to go carbon neutral by 2045 – a similar policy – less than a month ago. The Governor of Hawaii signed a trio of bills which were not only aimed at carbon neutrality, but also to restore indigenous forests and require buildings to be fit for rising sea levels.

While some critics have argued that the proposal could raise energy prices, it has largely been met with enthusiasm by legislators and the public.

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