California’s Clean Energy Commitments Grow Stronger

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

People hold signs as they listen to a group of scientists speak during a rally in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting Tuesday, December 13, 2016, in San Francisco.

Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement only confirms that Washington is in retreat from the world stage.

Rather than stepping up to the existential challenge before us, Trump is ducking his responsibility as the leader of the free world at a time when American leadership is vital to the future of our planet and our children.

The decision to leave the Paris Agreement—a historic commitment by nearly 200 nations to meaningfully address climate change—was nothing more than a cynical ploy to appease the president’s political base. It comes at the expense of our economy, our health, and our credibility as a world leader. And it has Steve Bannon’s fingerprints all over it.

In fact, this is precisely the type of nationalistic, anti-intellectual flame-throwing that Bannon became known for as the editor of Breitbart News. It pits America against the rest of the world, and Americans against each other.

Let’s be clear: There’s zero upside to this decision for the American economy. It’s a cruel, empty gesture that gives false hope to displaced mine workers. No amount of rhetoric or regulatory capture can bring back coal. That train has left the station.

If the president genuinely wants to protect and grow American jobs, he should look to California’s example. Clean energy is now a pillar of our economy, and employs more than half a million Californians—nearly ten times the number of coal-mining jobs in the entire nation. That's why Trump's fossil-fuel fetish isn't just environmentally out of touch; it's economically out of whack.  

California’s leadership is now more critical than ever. We’re showing the way forward, and we’re sending a clear message to the rest of the world that no president, no matter how desperately they try to ignore reality, can halt our progress.

The California Senate just approved my measure, Senate Bill 100, which puts California on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2045. It will completely eliminate fracking and fossil fuels from our electricity mix by that year.

It’s the most ambitious target in the world, especially for an economy that dwarfs all but a handful of nations’. But we’re ready for the challenge—and more importantly, we’re ready to seize the opportunity.

This is our chance not just to lead the world in fighting climate change, but to strengthen our middle class for decades to come with quality jobs that can support families and lift communities across our state.

This is how we win the future, and—whether Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt like it or not—this is how we keep America’s economy growing and thriving.

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