California commits to 100% renewable energy by 2045

The California Assembly has passed a bill that commits the state to transition to a 100% renewable energy grid by 2045, making it the largest economy in the world to have made such a pledge.

The commitment comes after California met 34% of its energy needs with renewable power last year

The commitment comes after California met 34% of its energy needs with renewable power last year

Legislators voted 45-32 on Tuesday (28 August) to approve Senate Bill 100 (SB 100), which gives the state 27 years to remove oil and natural gas from its energy mix.

The bill additionally sets an interim target of 60% renewable power in the state-wide energy mix by 2030, a 10% increase on the previous target of 50% by the same deadline. California met more than a third (34%) of its energy needs with renewable power last year, according to the latest data from the state's energy commission. 

SB100 will now go once more to the California State Senate as a formality before being sent to Governor Jerry Brown, who is widely expected to sign the motion off in the next 30 days.

If Governor Brown signs off the motion, California will become one of two US states to have made a 100% renewable commitment for 2045, after Hawaii approved a similar bill in 2015.

The vote was welcomed by environmental law firm Earthjustice’s attorney Paul Cort, who said SB100 will serve as “an inventive blueprint” to safeguard the climate in California and elsewhere.

“While Trump is taking the nation backwards by deregulating and subsidising the coal, oil, and natural gas industries in D.C., California is rolling up its sleeves to build bold climate protections,” Cort said.

“Already home to 500,000 clean energy jobs and the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the US, California is proving that it can be done.”

Climate action NGO 350’s executive director May Boeve also praised the decision, dubbing it a “massive victory for Californians who have been demanding a swift transition to clean energy in the state”.

The move to pass SB100 comes after a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found that 72% of Californians supported the motion, despite lawmakers voting to block the bill last September.

A catalyst for change?

Given its size, California is expected to influence other states to adopt similar legislation – or even spur a national transition to clean energy.

Political analysists have already begun to speculate that the state’s move to pass SB100 could influence New York lawmakers to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act, a bill which would set a 2050 target for 100% renewable power state-wide.

Sarah George


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