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[Column] California, the Future of 100% Renewable Energy


writer admin date18-10-11 10:20 hit : 149


Source : Jeonnam Ilbo, Released on Sept. 26th, 2018


California, the Future of 100% Renewable Energy


-  Article by Mr. Lim Nak Pyong,

Secretary General of Urban Environmental Accords (UEA)

President of International Climate and Environment Center


California, a state with 40 million citizens, has the world’s 5th largest economy, bigger than that of England or France. Lately, this state has done a great job (both in size and in significance). In hopes of encouraging citizens to aggressively respond to climate change, California has enacted a state law that mandates 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Last September, Senate Bill 100 (SB100) was passed by California’s state assembly (44 vs 32), and enacted after it was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. For more than one year, the issue of climate change has been raised by people from various sectors; Arnold Schwarzenegger (Republican, former Governor of California and actor), Al Gore (former Vice President), Leonardo DiCaprio (actor active in climate change issues), and so forth. The state of Hawaii legislated a 100% renewable energy bill before California, and several more states including Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C. are now working on a similar bill.

According to SB100, California needs to adopt 50% renewable energy by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2045. In the electricity sector particularly, the use of coal and gas (especially gas) will decrease. California’s nuclear power plant is no exception. Signing the bill, Governor Jerry Brown blamed the ‘gross ignorance’ of the Trump administration about climate change and said that California will play a global leading role in responding to the climate crisis issues that Earth is facing.

In addition to 100% renewable energy by 2045, he also signed an executive order that strongly encourages the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in every possible sector of the economy, such as transportation, agriculture, etc. The GHG reduction target for California by 2050 almost reaches to 80~90%. This means that California, once one of the five biggest cities depending on fossil fuels, is trying to shift its economic structure towards a decarbonized clean renewable energy base.

The passing of SB100 marks a pivotal event, and it has great influence considering California’s economy. Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, mentioned that the passing of this bill was a historic and meaningful moment for California, for the United States, and for the whole world. He also predicted that this bill will bring thousands of job opportunities (in addition to the existing five hundred thousand jobs in the renewable energy sector) and create billions of dollars in profit to its community.

Right after the bill was passed, ‘Global Climate Action Summit’ was held from September 12th to 14th in San Francisco, California. This summit was organized by Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City and current United Nations special envoy for cities and climate change. Thousands of people from cities and local governments around the world, including entrepreneurs and experts, from different religions and civil societies, etc. attended this meaningful event. Participants exchanged ideas about climate action plans, actions at the city/local level, energy conversion in electricity, transportation, infrastructure, etc. Blame was assigned to the Trump administration for not facing climate change and declaring withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. In this way, a great amount of conversation took place to make 100% renewable energy possible.

California represents the future of 100% renewable energy. These actions are seen as inspiring and extraordinary from the eyes of others like us. Some may say it is impossible. For example, Korean government aims to achieve 20% renewable energy by 2030 while California targets 60% by then. California shows where the rest of the world must go. We must learn from California’s example to make a difference.