9838478066?profile=RESIZE_710xOn September 23 of this year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed 24 bills dedicating $15 billion to meeting the current and future challenges of Global Climate Change in California. That’s scary; that much legislation all at the same time. Imagine the small print! The state certainly cannot afford inaction. But with recent budget surpluses, the state can well afford it. The bills are ambitious to help the state create the infrastructure needed to meet the current and future challenges of a warming climate, drought, and coastal flooding. For a complete description of the legislation, click here.

Following is a summary of the legislation. 

A Circular Economy

The state will invest $270 million to support a circular economy that keeps plastics and other pollution off our streets, out of our waterways, oceans, beaches, and out of the digestive tracts of sea birds and fish. The ultimate goal is to increase the lifetime of any useful product, like food packaging and plastic bags that are otherwise dumped into a landfill. Great Pacific Garbage Patch, beware! We’re coming after you.

For many of us, the idea of a circular economy may be new. In short, it’s about using things over and over again—giving plastic new lifetime employment, for example.

The legislation supporting a circular economy mandates that plastics and other packaging materials are labeled correctly (SB 343). The three swooshes symbol will no longer be enough. Consumers will make better choices when buying products and deciding which items go in the recycle bin, the green waste containers, or the landfill. Do you ever wonder how much of what we put in the recycling bin gets recycled? Trash transported to other countries will no longer be labeled as “re-used” (SB 881). Package producers will certify that “compostable” material will actually break down in the soil in real-life environments and not negatively impact the soil (AB 1201). Products must be approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the Compost Manufacturing Alliance, or another approved third-party certifying organization.

Another piece of legislation touches the brewing and beverage community and is hands-on for consumers (AB 962). Beer bottles and other glass beverage containers will be easier to recycle. And finally, but not least important in our daily lives, restaurants will no longer put plastic utensils in your take-out food bags unless you ask them to do so (AB 1276).

$1.5 Billion for Wildfire and Forest Resilience

This spending includes salary funding for close to 1,400 new firefighters and a dozen firefighting aircraft. Suppose the whole package is successful, making us better prepared for fire season in California. In that case, the extra firefighters we no longer need can train for jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency, economic sectors expected to grow.

$5.2 Billion for Water and Drought Resilience

This money ensures we have enough water in our suburbs and cities to drink, wash, and water our drought-resistance plants. Decades of pulling water out of the aquifers have caused much of the Central Valley to sink, and replenishing those water supplies might reverse that trend. With a focus on groundwater management, we may be seeing the Central Valley farming communities rise, both economically and perhaps geologically. You never know.

$3.7 Billion for Climate Resilience

This spending will better prepare us for extreme heat that disproportionally impacts low-income communities and the elderly, and coastal flooding.

$1.1 Billion for Climate-Smart Agriculture

This money is for soil management, methane reduction from the rear ends of cows—all joking aside, methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas—and investments in cleaner and leaner farming equipment.

$3.9 Billion for Zero-Emission Vehicles

Tesla for everyone? Not quite. Making energy-efficient and all-electric cars, busses, and trucks more affordable for everybody is the goal of this spending.

All of these bills will bring about significant change to the way we use precious resources, protect our environment, and dispose of things that we've used only once. But for these changes to take root and proliferate, something else has to change—us. If we don't change how we think about the things we see and handle every day, from the garbage strewn on the side of highways and the plastic bags—and now medical masks—on city and suburban streets, nothing will change. Until knowing what goes in the green can, the blue can, and the black can becomes second nature, the $15 billion or $100 billion we spend trying to create a circular economy won't make a difference.


Photo by the blowup on Unsplash.


You need to be a member of SCOCO Network to add comments!

Join SCOCO Network