In California, wildfires are intensifying and temperatures are rising every year due to climate change. For years, communities on the frontlines of climate impacts and of oil and gas extraction have been urging the state’s administration to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Now, as California’s governor comes to the end of his term, communities in the state are urging him to deny all new permits for oil and gas drilling and phase out existing fossil fuel extraction across the state.
California is already seeing the impacts of climate change, even as the state is positioned as a leader in the fight against the climate crisis. Year after year, wildfires have continued to break records for their size and the immense amount of destruction they cause. This year, experts predict wildfire season will continue to get worse. Meanwhile, headlines forecast that California’s wildfire season “may now be year-round.” Six of California’s most destructive wildfires on record have occurred in the last 10 months.
The likelihood of these destructive fires is made all the worse by record-breaking temperatures being experienced across the state. This summer, all-time-high temperature records were set across Southern California. Overall, July was California’s hottest month ever recorded.
In response to worsening impacts from climate change and the direct effects of oil and gas production on the health of nearby communities, people across California are demanding action from Governor Jerry Brown. Specifically, communities are calling on Brown, who is winding down his last term in office as Governor and his career as an elected official, to deny new permits for oil and gas drilling and to phase out fossil fuel extraction as a whole in the state.
California is often held up as a leader on climate action in the U.S. and Brown has supported measures to increase energy efficiency in the state. Yet the governor has stopped short of addressing of the oil and gas industry directly, despite the urging of communities most impacted by fossil fuel production. Recently, the state’s legislature passed a bill, called SB 100, to move the state’s electrical grid to 100% clean energy by 2045.
“This is a massive victory for Californians who’ve been demanding a swift transition to clean energy in the state,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve of SB 100. “SB 100 is a critical first step toward addressing the worsening climate crisis, but to truly change course, we must end fossil fuel extraction. Governor Brown should go even further by kickstarting the transition off of fossil fuels while protecting Californian’s lives and livelihoods.”
As climate impacts worsen across California, from rising temperatures to intensifying wildfires, the state’s government has a critical opportunity to act on phasing out the extraction of fossil fuels and transition to a 100% renewable energy economy that prioritizes community-led solutions. If California takes this critical step, it could set a precedent for climate action both in the U.S. and around the world.
Download the full People’s Dossier on 1.5°C here.