Global Warming

Climate bills working their way through California Legislature

Lawmakers are addressing bills to extend California's cap-and-trade system, ban specific pollutants, and embrace the carbon capturing power of natural and agricultural landscapes.

The Long-billed Curlew is one of the 170 California birds threatened by climate change. Photo: Blake Matheson

While this year hasn’t had the political fireworks around proposed climate legislation that we saw in 2015, California lawmakers are still considering a number of major bills that will have a significant impact on birds and people.

The biggest news around climate legislation is unfinished business from last year. As you may recall, Senate Bill 32, authored by State Senator Fran Pavley, was held over from last year when it failed to get the votes needed to pass in the face of withering opposition from the petroleum industry. Pavley has reintroduced her bill and is actively building support around it. SB 32 seeks to extend California’s landmark climate change law that was originally passed in 2006. Under this measure, climate reduction goals will be extended to 2030, along with the state’s cap-and-trade program. SB 32 passed the State Senate last year, and must get approval in the State Assembly before it can go to the governor’s desk.

Another bill to watch is Senate Bill 1383, dubbed by author Sen. Ricardo Lara as the Super Pollutant Reduction Act of 2016. This bill will require the state Air Resources Board approve and implement a strategy to reduce statewide emissions of short-lived climate pollutants to achieve a reduction in emissions of methane by 40%, fluorinated gases by 40%, and black carbon by 50% below 2013 levels by the year 2030. Lara has primarily positioned his bill as a public health measure, garnering the support of well over 30 public health organizations, including the American Lung Association. But this measure will also benefit birds tremendously, both by reducing the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, but also by reducing pollution that hurts birds. SB 1383 was approved by the State Senate in June, and now moves into the State Assembly.

The Legislature is also moving forward a bill that encourages the protection and management of natural and working lands as part of California’s ongoing efforts to meet its climate change goals. Senate Bill 1386, called the Natural and Working Lands Climate Solutions Act, establishes a state policy that protection and management of natural and working lands are a key strategy in meeting the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals. SB 1386 passed out of the State Senate in June and is now moving through the State Assembly.

Audubon has determined that 170 California birds will be threatened with extinction in the coming decades if we fail to address climate change.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress of these and other climate-related bills this summer as they move through the State Legislature. We’ll also let you know when key votes are approaching so you can make you voice heard.

How you can help, right now