“The time is ripe.”

Jonathan Parfrey
Executive Director, Climate Resolve

Governor Brown is not alone in recognizing the need to set ambitious new climate action goals.  California’s Senate President Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins are also unequivocally committed to implementing AB32 and, like Brown, are looking to enact new climate policies.

What does this mean for California’s cities?

Foremost, we are fortunate to have an administration and major legislators who –  at this critical juncture -“get it”. The science tells us we have a rough road ahead. Governor Brown and others recognize that every government, internationally, and at the subnational and local level will have to wrestle with climate change. By preparing today, California regions will be poised to meet the crisis, and do so better than others.

Second, cities need to dust off their climate action plans and give ’em an once-over. Is your city ready for electric cars, hydrogen-powered buses, cool roofs and new and better photovoltaic power?

Third, keep an eye out for proceedings at the California Air Resources Board. In 2015, the Governor’s goals will filter out through state agencies – and the ARB is the lead and will work through existing documents and statutes. (Sign up here for ARB notices.)

Fourth, track new climate legislation via LegInfo. Notably, Senator Fran Pavley is championing SB32, a sequel to her 2006 landmark climate legislation.

Next, cities should consider applying for support from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund – revenue supplied by cap-and-trade auction proceeds. In 2014-15, $850 million will be allocated. In 2015-16, the Governor’s budget has placed $1.1 billion in the fund. This ARB website lists programs, guidelines and deadlines. (To be clear: cities will need to submit good projects; these are not replacement dollars for community redevelopment; it is important to emphasize that all projects must, first and foremost, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.)

Last, you may wish to act now on local initiatives that nicely complement the Governor’s goals. The time is ripe to jumpstart that transit measure, or enact new policies that promote affordable housing near transit stops, or help ranchers manage their lands to sequester carbon.

By acting now on climate change, California cities can ride the wave of the future…even if it’s a heat wave.