December’s Happy Hour’s addressed the important topic of how to get to clean energy 24/7 – a must if we want to successfully address climate change. Our guest speakers were Senator Josh Becker, representing California Senate District 13 covering San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County and Jan Pepper, CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy.
Senator Becker kicked off the evening sharing highlights and implications from COP26 (the 26th Conference of Parties, for signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) which he attended in Glasgow, Scotland in November. One of the goals of the conference was to highlight actions being taken toward reaching the climate goals set forth in the Paris Climate Accords (2015). Notable progress in this regard includes:
1.) both the U.S. and India showed up to the event this year, were actively engaged and made pledges,
2.) many of the countries signed on to a Global Methane Pledge, committing to reduce methane emissions by 30% (from 2020 levels) by 2030,
3.) 110 countries (representing 85% of the world’s forests) pledged to end deforestation by 2030,
4.) the financial services industry pledged to mobilize funds necessary for the transition to global net zero by 2050 (meaning greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere are balanced out by those that are removed).
Senator Becker explained that despite the progress noted at COP26, current short-term policies in countries across the world fall well short of getting us to the goal of net zero emissions. As this is a “global problem needing global action” one of his reasons for attending was to share how California has made progress using technology and policy innovation. For example, California has reduced emissions 20% and increased revenue by 60% per capita in the same time frame. While in Europe for COP26, Becker had the opportunity to learn about best practices and research from other countries as well as to see first-hand some of their efforts. This included offshore floating wind production in Portugal.
In California, Senator Becker is hoping to build on the success seen in solar over the past decade (costs driven down 90%) and expand that to cement, the most commonly used building material and one of the largest industrial contributors to greenhouse gases. His recently passed SB596 Net Zero Cement, will require California to be net zero by 2045 for cement used in the state.
California is requiring the state to achieve net zero in its own operations by 2035. And President Biden recently announced that the federal government is requiring its own agencies and departments to meet the goal by 2050.
For more information on what is happening locally, residents are encouraged to read Senator Becker’s Blog “Getting to Zero” .
Key to get to Net Zero emissions means achieving 24/7 clean energy. Jan Pepper, CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy, followed Senator’s Becker presentation by highlighting how PCE is striving to be a leader in the move to 24/7 clean energy. Currently, PCE delivers 100% clean, greenhouse gas-free energy to nearly all residents and businesses in San Mateo County.
The organization has set the ambitious goal to provide affordable, renewable energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by 2025. Their recently published 24/7 renewable white paper outlines how they plan to achieve that goal. Their aim is threefold: 1.) to further reduce greenhouse gases, 2.) to deliver clean energy at an affordable rate, 3.) to demonstrate to others across the state and nation that it is possible to be clean, green and cost-effective.
In addition to their 24/7 clean energy initiative, PCE is working to transition the building sector and transportation to clean energy use. One of the ways they do this is through a variety of residential (https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/residential-programs/) and commercial (https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/commercial-programs/) rebate and technical assistance programs.
Senator Becker summed up the evening’s discussion well when he stated that it would take innovation at all levels – city, county, state, and country – to fully transform our society and meet our climate change goals.
Author: Susie Hodges