Sen. Kevin de León
President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
United States

The California Example

“This fight is larger than me, larger than any industry, state or nation. It’s about you and the future of your family.”

When the iPhone (remember those?) and its contemporaries first took the world of electronic communication by storm, smartphones were a luxury—only the affluent and tech-savvy could enjoy the convenience these technologies offered. Now, as I write, smartphones are ubiquitous. We take for granted what only a short time ago was revolutionary.

I hope that by the time you read this, our energy systems have experienced a similar revolution. I hope that smokestacks and suffocating smog are relics of a long gone past. I hope that no matter where you live, or where you fall on the economic ladder, you can take clean air and a healthy environment for granted. Countless dedicated individuals are working tirelessly to secure that right for you.

We understand what’s at stake. Extreme weather is already changing the world as we know it; drought, flooding, extreme heat and sea-level rise are altering the face of our planet and wreaking havoc on society. The economic costs of climate change are mounting, and there is overwhelming consensus in the global scientific community that the toll will only rise the longer we wait to take decisive action.

You would be proud to know that California is leading the way. Up and down this great state, the people have made their voices heard, demanding a transition to low-carbon energy technologies. A remarkable coalition of forward-thinking businesses, national and international world leaders, and prize winners in science and technology, are all united in support of aggressive climate action.

Californians of all stripes rallied behind my bill, Senate Bill 350, to make clean power the mainstream for our state. The families living beside the freeways, refineries, factories, and in the fields, whose voices are rarely heard—whose quiet struggles are the reason I ran for office—were finally given a public forum to talk about the consequences they suffer as a result of our continued dependence on fossil fuels.

Together, we enshrined historic standards that double energy efficiency in all buildings and require half the electricity in the largest state in the union to be generated from renewable sources by 2030. Along with our existing laws supporting clean air and renewable energy, SB 350 lays the groundwork for a more equitable and sustainable future for California.

As world leaders gather in Paris later this year to negotiate a global treaty to limit the warming of the planet, they will have the California example to guide them. We are demonstrating how one of the great economies of the world can cut greenhouse gas emissions, promote new industries that bring clean, affordable power to our energy grid, and create good-paying jobs.

This fight is larger than me, larger than any industry, state or nation. It’s about you and the future of your family. It’s about protecting your right to a healthy and livable planet. I hope—for your sake—that we prevail.

President pro tempore of the California State Senate, de León is the highest-ranking Latino politician in the state and a key leader in its effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.