How California's Ambitious New Climate Plan Could Help Speed Energy Transformation Around The World
California is embarking on an audacious new climate plan that aims to eliminate the state’s greenhouse gas footprint by 2045, and in the process, slash emissions far beyond its borders. The blueprint calls for massive transformations in industry, energy and transportation, as well as changes in institutions and human behaviors.
These transformations won’t be easy. Two years of developing the plan have exposed myriad challenges and tensions, including environmental justice, affordability and local rule.
For example, the San Francisco Fire Commission had prohibited batteries with more than 20 kilowatt-hours of power storage in homes, severely limiting the ability to store solar electricity from rooftop solar panels for all those times when the sun isn’t shining. More broadly, local opposition to new transmission lines, large-scale solar and wind facilities, substations for truck charging, and oil refinery conversions to produce renewable diesel will slow the transition.
I had a front row seat while the plan was prepared and vetted as a longtime board member of the California Air Resources Board, the state agency that oversees air pollution and climate control. And my chief contributor to this article, Rajinder Sahota, is deputy executive officer of the board, responsible for preparing the plan and navigating political land mines.
We believe California has a chance of succeeding, and in the process, showing the way for the rest of the world. In fact, most of the needed policies are already in place.
What happens in California has global reach
What California does matters far beyond state lines.
California is close to being the world’s fourth-largest economy and has a history of adopting environmental requirements that are imitated across the United States and the world. California has the most ambitious zero-emission requirements in the world for cars, trucks and buses; the most ambitious low-carbon fuel requirements; one of the largest carbon cap-and-trade programs; and the most aggressive requirements for renewable electricity.
In the U.S., through peculiarities in national air pollution law, other states have replicated many of California’s regulations and programs so they can race ahead of national policies. States can either follow federal vehicle emissions standards or California’s stricter rules. There is no third option. An increasing number of states now follow California.
So, even though California contributes less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, if it sets a high bar, its many technical, institutional and behavioral innovations will likely spread and be transformative.
What’s in the California blueprint
The new Scoping Plan lays out in considerable detail how California intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 48% below 1990 levels by 2030 and then achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
It calls for a 94% reduction in petroleum use between 2022 and 2045 and an 86% reduction in total fossil fuel use. Overall, it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2045 relative to 1990 levels. The remaining 15% reduction would come from capturing carbon from the air and fossil fuel plants, and sequestering it below ground or in forests, vegetation and soils.
To achieve these goals, the plan calls for a 37-fold increase in on-road zero-emission vehicles, a sixfold increase in electrical appliances in residences, a fourfold increase in installed wind and solar generation capacity, and doubling total electricity generation to run it all. It also calls for ramping up hydrogen power and altering agriculture and forest management to reduce wildfires, sequester carbon dioxide and reduce fertilizer demand.
This is a massive undertaking, and it implies a massive transformation of many industries and activities.
Transportation: California’s No. 1 emitter
Transportation accounts for about half of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, including upstream oil refinery emissions. This is where the path forward is perhaps most settled.
The state has already adopted regulations requiring almost all new cars, trucks and buses to have zero emissions – new transit buses by 2029 and most truck sales and light-duty vehicle sales by 2035.
In addition, California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requires oil companies to steadily reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. This regulation aims to ensure that the liquid fuels needed for legacy cars and trucks still on the road after 2045 will be low-carbon biofuels.
But regulations can be modified and even rescinded if opposition swells. If battery costs do not resume their downward slide, if electric utilities and others lag in providing charging infrastructure, and if local opposition blocks new charging sites and grid upgrades, the state could be forced to slow its zero-emission vehicle requirements.
The plan also relies on changes in human behavior. For example, it calls for a 25% reduction in vehicle miles traveled in 2030 compared with 2019, which has far dimmer prospects. The only strategies likely to significantly reduce vehicle use are steep charges for road use and parking, a move few politicians or voters in the U.S. would support, and a massive increase in shared-ride automated vehicles, which are not likely to scale up for at least another 10 years. Additional charges for driving and parking raise concerns about affordability for low-income commuters.
Electricity and electrifying buildings
The key to cutting emissions in almost every sector is electricity powered by renewable energy.
Electrifying most everything means not just replacing most of the state’s natural gas power plants, but also expanding total electricity production – in this case doubling total generation and quadrupling renewable generation, in just 22 years.
That amount of expansion and investment is mind-boggling – and it is the single most important change for reaching net zero, since electric vehicles and appliances depend on the availability of renewable electricity to count as zero emissions.
Electrification of buildings is in the early stages in California, with requirements in place for new homes to have rooftop solar, and incentives and regulations adopted to replace natural gas use with heat pumps and electric appliances.
The biggest and most important challenge is accelerating renewable electricity generation – mostly wind and utility-scale solar. The state has laws in place requiring electricity to be 100% zero emissions by 2045 – up from 52% in 2021.
The plan to get there includes offshore wind power, which will require new technology – floating wind turbines. The federal government in December 2022 leased the first Pacific sites for offshore wind farms, with plans to power over 1.5 million homes. However, years of technical and regulatory work are still ahead.
For solar power, the plan focuses on large solar farms, which can scale up faster and at less cost than rooftop solar. The same week the new scoping plan was announced, California’s Public Utility Commission voted to significantly scale back how much homeowners are reimbursed for solar power they send to the grid, a policy known as net metering. The Public Utility Commission argues that because of how electricity rates are set, generous rooftop solar reimbursements have primarily benefited wealthier households while imposing higher electricity bills on others. It believes this new policy will be more equitable and create a more sustainable model.
Industry and the carbon capture challenge
Industry plays a smaller role, and the policies and strategies here are less refined.
The state’s carbon cap-and-trade program, designed to ratchet down total emissions while allowing individual companies some flexibility, will tighten its emissions limits.
But while cap-and-trade has been effective to date, in part by generating billions of dollars for programs and incentives to reduce emissions, its role may change as energy efficiency improves and additional rules and regulations are put in place to replace fossil fuels.
One of the greatest controversies throughout the Scoping Plan process is its reliance on carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS. The controversy is rooted in concern that CCS allows fossil fuel facilities to continue releasing pollution while only capturing the carbon dioxide emissions. These facilities are often in or near disadvantaged communities.
California’s chances of success
Will California make it? The state has a track record of exceeding its goals, but getting to net zero by 2045 requires a sharper downward trajectory than even California has seen before, and there are still many hurdles.
Environmental justice concerns about carbon capture and new industrial facilities, coupled with NIMBYism, could block many needed investments. And the possibility of sluggish economic growth could led to spending cuts and might exacerbate concerns about economic disruption and affordability.
There are also questions about prices and geopolitics. Will the upturn in battery costs in 2022 – due to geopolitical flare-ups, a lag in expanding the supply of critical materials, and the war in Ukraine – turn out to be a hiccup or a trend? Will electric utilities move fast enough in building the infrastructure and grid capacity needed to accommodate the projected growth in zero-emission cars and trucks?
It is encouraging that the state has already created just about all the needed policy infrastructure. Additional tightening of emissions limits and targets will be needed, but the framework and policy mechanisms are largely in place.
Rajinder Sahota, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, contributed to this article.
Daniel Sperling receives funding from several foundations and government agencies, is a board member of the California Air Resources Board, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, an NGO.
Nashville Attack Renews Calls For Assault Weapons Ban – Data Shows There Were Fewer Mass Shooting Deaths During An Earlier 10-Year Prohibition
The shooting deaths of three children and three adults inside a Nashville school has put further pressure on Congress to look at imposing a ban on so-called assault weapons. Such a prohibition would be designed cover the types of guns that the suspect legally purchased and used during the March 27, 2023, attack.
Speaking after the incident, President Joe Biden issued his latest plea to lawmakers to act. “Why in God’s name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets and at our schools?” he asked.
A prohibition has been in place before. As Biden has previously noted , bipartisan support in Congress helped push through a federal assault weapons ban in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
That ban was limited – it covered only certain categories of semiautomatic weapons such as AR-15s and applied to a ban on sales only after the act was signed into law, allowing people to keep hold of weapons purchased before that date. And it also had in it a so-called “sunset provision” that allowed the ban to expire in 2004.
Nonetheless, the 10-year life span of that ban – with a clear beginning and end date – gives researchers the opportunity to compare what happened with mass shooting deaths before, during and after the prohibition was in place. Our group of injury epidemiologists and trauma surgeons did just that. In 2019, we published a population-based study analyzing the data in a bid to evaluate the effect that the federal ban on assault weapons had on mass shootings, defined by the FBI as a shooting with four or more fatalities, not including the shooter. Here’s what the data shows:
Before the 1994 ban:
From 1981 – the earliest year in our analysis – to the rollout of the assault weapons ban in 1994, the proportion of deaths in mass shootings in which an assault rifle was used was lower than it is today.
Yet in this earlier period, mass shooting deaths were steadily rising. Indeed, high-profile mass shootings involving assault rifles – such as the killing of five children in Stockton, California, in 1989 and a 1993 San Francisco office attack that left eight victims dead – provided the impetus behind a push for a prohibition on some types of gun.
During the 1994-2004 ban:
In the years after the assault weapons ban went into effect, the number of deaths from mass shootings fell, and the increase in the annual number of incidents slowed down. Even including 1999’s Columbine High School massacre – the deadliest mass shooting during the period of the ban – the 1994-2004 period saw lower average annual rates of both mass shootings and deaths resulting from such incidents than before the ban’s inception.
From 2004 onward:
The data shows an almost immediate – and steep – rise in mass shooting deaths in the years after the assault weapons ban expired in 2004.
Breaking the data into absolute numbers, from 2004 to 2017 – the last year of our analysis – the average number of yearly deaths attributed to mass shootings was 25, compared with 5.3 during the 10-year tenure of the ban and 7.2 in the years leading up to the prohibition on assault weapons.
Saving hundreds of lives
We calculated that the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active. The proportion of overall gun homicides resulting from mass shootings was also down, with nine fewer mass-shooting-related fatalities per 10,000 shooting deaths.
Taking population trends into account, a model we created based on this data suggests that had the federal assault weapons ban been in place throughout the whole period of our study – that is, from 1981 through 2017 – it may have prevented 314 of the 448 mass shooting deaths that occurred during the years in which there was no ban.
And this almost certainly underestimates the total number of lives that could be saved. For our study, we chose only to include mass shooting incidents that were reported and agreed upon by all three of our selected data sources: the Los Angeles Times, Stanford University and Mother Jones magazine.
Furthermore, for uniformity, we also chose to use the strict federal definition of an assault weapon – which may not include the entire spectrum of what many people may now consider to be assault weapons.
Cause or correlation?
It is also important to note that our analysis cannot definitively say that the assault weapons ban of 1994 caused a decrease in mass shootings, nor that its expiration in 2004 resulted in the growth of deadly incidents in the years since.
Many additional factors may contribute to the shifting frequency of these shootings, such as changes in domestic violence rates, political extremism, psychiatric illness, firearm availability and a surge in sales, and the recent rise in hate groups.
Nonetheless, according to our study, President Biden’s claim that the rate of mass shootings during the period of the assault weapons ban “went down” only for it to rise again after the law was allowed to expire in 2004 holds true.
As the U.S. looks toward a solution to the country’s epidemic of mass shootings, it is difficult to say conclusively that reinstating the assault weapons ban would have a profound impact, especially given the growth in sales in the 18 years in which Americans have been allowed to purchase and stockpile such weapons. But given that many of the high-profile mass shooters in recent years purchased their weapons less than one year before committing their acts, the evidence suggests that it might.
Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on June 8, 2022.
Michael J. Klein does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
When It Comes To Explaining Elections In Congress, Gerrymandering Is Overrated
Over the past decade, a consistent refrain in discussions of politics has been that partisan gerrymandering – the drawing of congressional district lines to disproportionately advantage one party over the other – is unfair and distorts the balance of power in Congress.
Democrats in particular have complained that the process advantages Republicans. Republicans have been quick to blame Democrats for the same thing in states such as Maryland.
But ultimately, the parties’ efforts to gain a seat advantage in the most recent round of redistricting ended up mostly in a wash – and 2022’s razor-thin midterm election results reflected this.
As a political scientist who studies Congress, elections and political representation, I know that redistricting is both more complex and less nefariously partisan than many commentators give it credit for. The truth is that gerrymandering has always been overrated as an explanation of election outcomes in Congress.
Let’s run through some of the reasons.
Does gerrymandering skew election outcomes?
The Constitution requires that every 10 years, following the decennial census, states redraw the geographic boundaries of congressional districts. The purpose is largely to make sure the districts are as equal as possible based on population.
Most states rely on their state legislatures to draw these lines. Critics of this process charge that in many cases, this results in gerrymandering: the drawing of districts specifically to maximize the number of seats for the party that controls the legislature.
In many individual states, partisan majorities in state legislatures have drawn boundaries that result in congressional delegations that don’t reflect the statewide vote. In 2021, for example, Republicans in South Carolina drew districts that handed their party six out of the delegation’s seven seats in Congress, despite the party’s winning only 56% of the vote in 2020’s presidential election.
Democrats in Illinois, meanwhile, won 59% of the presidential vote in 2020; but after the 2022 midterm elections, they occupy 82% of the state’s congressional delegation, or 14 out of 17 seats, thanks to the heavily Democratic state Legislature’s redistricting.
The fact that both parties excel at gerrymandering meant that their efforts before the 2022 midterms essentially canceled each other out. As a result, the balance of seats in the new Congress largely matches the national political climate in the midterms. In 2022, Republicans won 51% of House seats, and 51% of the nationwide popular vote for Congress.
These numbers present a problem for gerrymandering critics, particularly those blaming it for the Democrats’ current minority status in Congress. If gerrymandering were significantly advantaging one or the other party, these numbers would not match up.
But this alignment between seats and votes isn’t a new trend. In the three most recent Congresses, the balance of congressional seats between the two parties is nearly identical to the percentage of the vote each party received nationwide in congressional races. In the 2018 midterms, for example, Democrats won 54% of congressional votes nationwide, and ended up with 54% of the seats in the House.
Data I’ve collected for other cycles does show a discrepancy between seats and votes during the Obama years, and it’s probably true that the redistricting process before 2012 cost Democrats a few seats in that decade.
But gerrymandering hasn’t always benefited Republicans: Democrats enjoyed a bigger and more sustained advantage from their district boundaries during the 1970s and 1980s. And if gerrymandering was ever the main cause of Democrats’ seat disadvantage in the House, it’s not today.
Geography matters, just not the way you think
Democrats and their allies have been particularly outspoken in their disparagement of gerrymandering, in some cases using some of the same fatalistic language about elections as former President Donald Trump.
For example, one argument during the Obama years was that gerrymandering made it “impossible” for Democrats to win the House. Sometimes the language mirrored Trump’s — that gerrymandering had “rigged” congressional elections in favor of Republicans.
Aside from the well-demonstrated dangers of casting doubt on the nation’s election systems, the evidence simply doesn’t support this doomsday perspective. Democrats do have major problems with geography, but they run much deeper than unfairly drawn lines.
Over the past 30 years, U.S. counties have consistently become less competitive between the parties in presidential elections.
In 1992, the vast majority of counties were won by slim margins, and thus winnable by either party. Only 1 in 3 counties was won by either party by more than 10 percentage points.
But today, the story is the opposite. Nearly 4 out of every 5 counties in 2020 were won decisively – by 10 points or more – by either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
The problem for Democrats is that these emerging landslide counties almost exclusively vote for Republicans. The thing about counties, though, is that their boundaries don’t change. This means that the massive geographic advantage Republicans enjoy cannot be blamed solely on gerrymandering.
The real explanation is the geographic sorting of the two parties over the past 30 or more years. Democrats have diminished as a presence in rural counties, particularly in the South and Midwest, while gaining numbers in counties with large cities like Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago.
These latter areas have such large populations that by winning them decisively, Democrats can stay competitive nationally despite Republicans’ more even geographic spread of support across the country.
The data largely indicates that it is this phenomenon, not gerrymandering, that is responsible for Democratic electoral underperformance. The clustering of Democratic votes in big cities makes it more difficult for any entity – including courts and nonpartisan commissions – to draw district lines that get Democrats the most possible seats in Congress. Because Democrats live in denser, more tightly packed places, they can’t distribute their votes as efficiently among geographic districts throughout a state.
Meanwhile, because Republican support is more evenly distributed geographically, there are more and better options for them to win lots of districts, rather than just lots of votes. Put simply, because of where they tend to live, Republicans are wasting fewer of their votes than Democrats.
Gerrymandering is still a problem
None of this means that partisan gerrymandering is not happening, or that efforts shouldn’t be made to fix it.
If both parties are gerrymandering so effectively that they cancel out each other’s gains, this has major implications for political institutions and culture even if they aren’t reflected in the national balance of power.
Gerrymandering has been increasingly the subject of court challenges, further bringing politics into the supposedly nonpolitical U.S. judicial system.
It also has tangible effects on regular Americans. My own research shows that changing district lines can disorient voters and reduce turnout. It could also cut into voters’ sense that their votes make a difference.
Democrats from South Carolina and Republicans from Illinois, would, I believe, feel better represented if they could see delegations that more accurately reflected their state’s electorate.
Additionally, partisan gerrymandering often means disregarding important local city and county boundaries, as well as local cultures, neighborhoods and industries – what political scientists call “communities of interest” – that have little to do with partisanship but mean a lot to everyday people.
Charles R. Hunt does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
What's At Stake As Protests Rock Israel: 3 Essential Reads On Democracy, Security And Human Rights
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, after 12 weeks of growing protest against his proposed judicial reforms, said he will order a temporary halt to the changes that aimed to rein in the power of Israel’s judiciary and grant virtually unaccountable power to politicians.
Netanyahu’s announcement came after massive protests had spread throughout the country, turbocharged by his firing the day before of Israel’s defense minister, who had called on the government to postpone the judicial reform.
City services and universities were shut down. The Histadrut, the country’s largest and most powerful labor organization, went on strike. Doctors walked out; Israel’s consul general in New York resigned; planes were grounded at the national airport. And tens of thousands of people demonstrated outside of the Knesset, the country’s parliament, as members of the country’s far-right groups called for violence – using “gasoline, explosives, tractors, guns, knives” as a member of one group put it – against the protesters.
Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president – a largely ceremonial post – had earlier in the month unveiled a proposed compromise on judicial reform that aimed to protect Israel’s democratic character. At the time, Herzog warned: “Israel is in the throes of a profound crisis. Anyone who thinks that a real civil war, of human life, is a line that we will not reach has no idea. The abyss is within touching distance.”
The Conversation has followed the growing crisis in Israel since the beginning of 2023. Here are three stories that will help you understand what’s at stake.
1. ‘A major threat to democracy’
Political scientist Boaz Atzili at American University wrote that “democracy is not just about holding elections. It is a set of institutions, ideas and practices that allow citizens a continuous, decisive voice in shaping their government and its policies.” Netanyahu’s far-right-wing government, sworn in on Dec. 29, 2022, “presents a major threat to Israeli democracy, and it does so on multiple fronts,” he wrote.
Atzili described the four ways the new government put Israeli democracy at risk, from “hostility to freedom of speech and dissent” to plans to “allow discrimination against the LGBTQ community and women” to “West Bank annexation and apartheid” and “erasing the separation of powers.”
The courts in Israel, wrote Atzili, “are the only institution that can check the power of the ruling parties.” The judicial reform would erase that separation of power and, he wrote, “as in Turkey, Hungary or even Russia, Israel could become a democracy in form only, devoid of all the ideas and institutions that underpin a government that is actually of the people and by the people.”
Israel’s Netanyahu facing off against the supreme court and proposing to limit judicial independence – and 3 other threats to Israeli democracy
2. ‘A very dangerous period’
Scholar Dov Waxman, an Israel expert at UCLA, said that he initially thought the warnings of an impending civil war or strife “were exaggerated and unnecessarily alarmist.”
But by mid-February, as the protests grew from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands participating, Waxman changed his mind. “I think now those warnings are well founded. Israel is really entering a very dangerous period.”
The protests, Waxman wrote, “are driven by concerns over this judicial overhaul, but I think they speak to a broader anxiety, a fear among many Israelis about the future of democracy in Israel and the future of the country.”
But while Israelis are taking to the streets to defend their democracy, they have not included Palestinians in their protests.
“I can certainly understand why many Palestinians would be feeling that all of this sudden anxiety and concern for Israeli democracy ignores the fact that almost 50% of the population that Israel effectively rules over lacks equal rights and lacks the ability to vote in Israeli elections,” he wrote. “I think the fact that most Israelis don’t seem to connect these two issues suggests that they only see democracy as this internal domestic issue without any relevance to the Palestinian question.”
The crisis may also harm Israel’s interests outside of the state. “If the perception takes hold that Israel is no longer a democracy or not a liberal democracy,” wrote Waxman, “that could further weaken support for Israel in Congress and in the Democratic Party. It might even make it harder for them to continue to approve U.S. aid for Israel.”
Israel enters a dangerous period – public protests swell over Netanyahu’s plan to limit the power of the Israeli Supreme Court
3. A political crisis could become a security crisis
American University scholar Dan Arbell, who served in the Israel Defense Forces and as a member of the country’s foreign service, took note of an unprecedented aspect of the demonstrations: “It’s not simply the persistence and size of the protest that is evidence of the crisis,” he wrote. “It’s who is protesting.”
Arbell wrote that while the protests over the past three months have brought together people from a range of professions and interests, among the protesters is “a group of individuals rarely seen at anti-government protests over the country’s almost 75-year history: Israel Defense Forces reservists.” Those reservists, he wrote, “announced they will not volunteer for reserve duty service if the legislation passes in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.”
That’s a sign that “the crisis’s implications extend far beyond the domestic political arena.” That means the crisis doesn’t just have meaning for the civic realm. “Besides threatening to undermine the economy and deepen societal divides,” wrote Arbell, “it threatens to erode Israeli national security and provoke a constitutional crisis that could ensnare the military as well.”
Israel’s military reservists are joining protests – potentially transforming a political crisis into a security crisis
Australian National Review – Who Controls America?
Australian National Review – Australian National Review And 21st Century U Founder Poses The Question “Do You Feel Like School Was More Of An Indoctrination Than An Education?”
Australian National Review – Australian National Review Founder Shares The Importance Of Independent Media And Also Discusses How To Access Financial Ttactics Re How To Survive Through The Impending Collapse Of The Western Financial System
International Blood Bank for the Unvaccinated has been Formed with Members from at Least 16 countries – Demand for “Pure Blood” Skyrockets
Life Force Network News English Transcript – White Paper Protests
Tesla Broke Labor Laws By Telling Workers Not To Discuss Pay, NLRB Claims
Health4 months ago
International Blood Bank for the Unvaccinated has been Formed with Members from at Least 16 countries – Demand for “Pure Blood” Skyrockets
English4 months ago
Life Force Network News English Transcript – White Paper Protests
Science and Tech3 months ago
Tesla Broke Labor Laws By Telling Workers Not To Discuss Pay, NLRB Claims
Life Force Original Content6 months ago
Speak Up News Part 2
English6 months ago
Life Force Network News English Transcript -UK False Data English Transcript
World News6 months ago
Australian National Review – McIntyre Report Political Talk Show- Episode 148, Elon Musk Now The Enemy Of Ukraine For Suggesting Peace,Australian PM Send $500 Million More To Nazis In Ukraine Without Voters Permission,Covid Vaccine Cover Up Failing,WW3 Being Pushed By Biden's Masters – Part 2
World News6 months ago
Australian National Review – McIntyre Report Political Talk Show- Episode 148, Elon Musk Now The Enemy Of Ukraine For Suggesting Peace,Australian PM Send $500 Million More To Nazis In Ukraine Without Voters Permission,Covid Vaccine Cover Up Failing,WW3 Being Pushed By Biden's Masters – Part 1
Life Force Now6 months ago
Life Force Network News-UK False Data