State Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park, announced his new legislative initiatives for a cleaner California during the 26th United Nations Climate Conference on Thursday, one of which calls on state government operations directly to go carbon neutral.
California already has a goal to meet carbon neutrality for its entire economy by no later than 2045, based on then-Gov. Jerry Brown's executive order in 2018. This means all citizens and companies in the state would adjust to eco-friendly vehicles, energy options and conservation methods in production.
Becker's new legislation, which will be introduced in January when the state Legislature reconvenes, would push for government operations to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, 10 years earlier than the statewide goal.
"If we are going to ask the entire state to achieve net zero, shouldn't the government lead by example and show how to get to zero before asking everyone else to do it?" Becker asked in a news release.
Becker's hope is that this bill could encourage California to kickstart progress by trying out zero emission operations.
"The state could — and should — lead on these issues by developing clear plans for how the state government will get to net zero emissions within its own operations by being an early adopter of the necessary technologies that will ultimately be needed by the rest of the state," Becker said.
Becker also wants to make reforms to "Build Clean Faster" to build up essential, environmentally-friendly projects and infrastructure at a quick pace.
"We cannot let business as usual, with all that red tape, prevent us from doing what must be done. It's time that we stop paying lawyers to fight about these projects and start paying workers to get them built."
It's quite fitting that Becker is attending COP26, given his background as a venture capitalist for green businesses. He also chairs the Senate Subcommittee on the Clean Energy Future and serves as vice chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies.
In an interview Monday with ABC7 News, he discussed his goals for the two-week event where world leaders discuss what actions they can take to fight climate change. "I'm there to show California's commitment, to show how we've done it, how we've led in electricity, how we've led in electric vehicles, our No. 1 export as a state," he said.
Becker also views the summit as an opportunity to gather ideas, such as how to utilize offshore wind power, which would work well with the state's solar energy and onshore wind energy.
He acknowledged that whatever comes out of the summit will fall short of where the world should be given the absence of China's leaders, but believes the representatives can walk away "with a shared sense of momentum. ... It's truly about transforming every aspect of our economy."
COP26 started on Oct. 31 and ends on Nov. 12.