Carbon Neutrality Is Within Reach – With Partnership, Resolve
and Protection of Vulnerable Communities
California has been a longtime leader in efforts to demonstrate the potential for effectively transitioning from a carbon-based economy to a clean energy economy. It’s also where Southern California Edison operates as one of the largest electric service providers in the country, and we are helping the state meet that challenge.
The Golden State’s economy is the fifth largest in the world and has grown its GDP while its greenhouse gas emissions have actually decreased. There is more to do. California has ambitious climate goals, including achieving 100 percent clean delivered power and a carbon neutral economy by 2045.
Recently, Southern California Edison published Pathway 2045, a blueprint for reaching California’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and carbon neutrality goals. In Pathway 2045, we see three pillars to achieving carbon neutrality in California:
- Deep decarbonization of the electric sector, which is already underway. SCE has decreased the GHG emissions from its power supplied to customers by 40% since 2005.
- Significant electrification of transportation and buildings, coupled with advanced energy efficiency – which includes electrification of three out of four light-duty vehicles (~26 million) and almost one million medium and heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, nearly 70 percent of building space and water heating in California will need to be electric.
- Use of low-carbon fuels like hydrogen for hard-to-electrify applications, such as industrial uses and heavy-duty long-range goods movement.
Carbon sequestration will also be crucial. We estimate that to implement the above, a remaining 108 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent will need to be sequestered to reach carbon neutrality.
Let’s not lose sight of the tremendous economic opportunity associated with this vision. By our analysis, the Pathway will result in $250 billion in clean energy and grid investments. This will be an economic engine for California in the upcoming decades, creating thousands of sustaining craft and skilled jobs in resource development, grid construction and energy management.
Pathway 2045 demonstrates that decarbonizing the electric grid and electrifying key economic sectors – specifically, transportation and buildings – provides the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve California’s critical 2045 greenhouse reduction goals.
In the spirit that led us to develop Pathway 2045 for California’s goals, we offer three critical actions for us all to take as other regions and states plan their own pathway to carbon neutrality.
The first is to be unwavering in our commitment to be partners with the global, regional and local players who join us in the science-based approach to current and future climate threats. Partnership also means that we must stay true to such inclusive and democratic processes as those that brought forth, for example, California’s AB32, SB100 and the programs that foster energy efficiency, renewable and clean energy resources, and development of innovative, state-of-the-art technologies.
The second is to face the increasing climate threats with the same resolve and effectiveness with which we in the western U.S. have achieved legislated carbon reduction goals. Make no mistake: we must be able to defend against today’s threats while advancing and aggressively implementing policies and programs that will mitigate the impacts of tomorrow. This means growing capabilities and efforts for resiliency. As our natural environment shifts to extremes that threaten our communities, we must provide effective resources for planning, preparation and response to these impacts.
Finally, we must ensure that the clean energy economy lifts up our most vulnerable communities. Communities that are often most negatively affected by climate threats must have access to the benefits of clean technologies and the economic opportunities associated with growing sectors of the economy. We must also thoughtfully plan for the drawdown of carbon-based sectors of our economy so that workers and the communities where they live can make the transition while avoiding regressive efforts to preserve a carbon-based status quo.
As we engage in critical gatherings such as the Climate Leadership Conference, Southern California Edison encourages everyone to take these action items back to your organizations and leadership wherever you call home. We hope you join us in our continuing work to build a safe, resilient and clean future for all.
Southern California Edison is a Silver Sponsor for the Climate Leadership Conference.