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Tag Archive: california

  1. Seagrass and kelp as nature-based solutions: CA lawmakers take aim at ocean acidification based on new report

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    • Seagrass and kelp may be quite beneficial for reducing the impacts of ocean acidification, especially in California’s bays
    • Restoring or preserving seagrass and kelp is a win-win measure that would also bring a number of other benefits including providing habitat for many marine species, including economically important fisheries like crab and moderating wave impacts, protecting coastlines from storms.
    • Hill showed that sediment inside seagrass meadows can contain up to two times as much organic carbon as habitats without vegetation; in summer months, the presence of seagrass can make water significantly less acidic, changing water chemistry up to 0.1 pH units.

    February 26, 2018 Read CA Seagrant article here

    Nielsen, K., Stachowicz, J., Carter, H., Boyer, K., Bracken, M., Chan, F., Chavez, F.,
    Hovel, K., Kent, M., Nickols, K., Ruesink, J., Tyburczy, J., and Wheeler, S. EMERGING UNDERSTANDING OF SEAGRASS AND KELP AS AN OCEAN ACIDIFICATION MANAGEMENT TOOL IN CALIFORNIA. Developed by a Working Group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team and California Ocean Science Trust 2018

    Seaweeds and seagrasses have potential to mitigate some effects of ocean acidification, according to a new report presented to the California state legislature earlier this month. The report was supported by the Ocean Protection Council. California Sea Grant Extension Specialist Joe Tyburczy, who is based at Humboldt State University, served on the working group that wrote the report.

    “The major take-home message in the report is that seagrass and kelp may be quite beneficial for reducing the impacts of ocean acidification, especially in California’s bays,” Tyburczy says. While many details remain to be studied, the researchers say that restoring or preserving seagrass and kelp is a win-win measure that would also bring a number of other benefits. For example, seagrass meadows are important habitat for many marine species, including economically important fisheries like crab. Kelp and seagrasses can also moderate wave impacts, protecting coastlines from storms.

    “There are many reasons we’d want to restore or preserve seagrass meadows. The potential of seagrasses to remove carbon from the water is just icing on the cake,” says University of California, Davis scientist Tessa Hill, who has conducted related research on the topic.

    …In her California Sea Grant-funded research in Tomales Bay, California, Hill showed that sediment inside seagrass meadows can contain up to two times as much organic carbon as habitats without vegetation. She also found that in summer months, the presence of seagrass can make water significantly less acidic, changing water chemistry up to 0.1 pH units.

    The results of the project were so promising that they led to a larger project to expand the research across the state, and also compare seagrass meadows that were restored rather than native.

    The idea of a nature-based solution with multiple benefits sounded good to policymakers who are working on strategies to address ocean acidification. The question will be when, where, and how to prioritize seagrass restoration and protection. That’s where current research aims to fill the gaps…..

  2. Climate Change Threatens Major Crops in California

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    • California produces over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts.
    • By the end of the century California’s climate will no longer be able to support the state’s major crops, including orchards.

    by Ahmel Ahmed KQED Feb 26 2018  read full article here

    California currently provides two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, but according to a new study published Tuesday, by the end of the century California’s climate will no longer be able to support the state’s major crops, including orchards.

    The report, published in “Agronomy,” warns that the increased rate and scale of climate change is “beyond the realm of experience” for the agricultural community, and unless farmers take urgent measures, the consequences could threaten national food security.

    “For California, as an agricultural leader for various commodities, impacts on agricultural production due to climate change would not only translate into national food security issues but also economic impacts that could disrupt state and national commodity systems,” the report warns.

    The study, led by researchers from the University of California, Merced and Davis campuses, looked at past and current trends in California’s climate and examined what impact record low levels of snowpack, and extreme events such as drought will have on crop yields over time…

    Tapan B. Pathak , Mahesh L. Maskey, Jeffery A. Dahlberg, Faith Kearn, Khaled M. Bali and Daniele Zaccaria. Climate Change Trends and Impacts on California Agriculture: A Detailed Review. Agronomy 2018, 8(3), 25; doi:10.3390/agronomy8030025

    Abstract: California is a global leader in the agricultural sector and produces more than 400 types of commodities. The state produces over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. Despite being highly productive, current and future climate change poses many challenges to the agricultural sector. This paper provides a summary of the current state of knowledge on historical and future trends in climate and their impacts on California agriculture. We present a synthesis of climate change impacts on California agriculture in the context of: (1) historic trends and projected changes in temperature, precipitation, snowpack, heat waves, drought, and flood events; and (2) consequent impacts on crop yields, chill hours, pests and diseases, and agricultural vulnerability to climate risks. Finally, we highlight important findings and directions for future research and implementation. The detailed review presented in this paper provides sufficient evidence that the climate in California has changed significantly and is expected to continue changing in the future, and justifies the urgency and importance of enhancing the adaptive capacity of agriculture and reducing vulnerability to climate change. Since agriculture in California is very diverse and each crop responds to climate differently, climate adaptation research should be locally focused along with effective stakeholder engagement and systematic outreach efforts for effective adoption and implementation. The expected readership of this paper includes local stakeholders, researchers, state and national agencies, and international communities interested in learning about climate change and California’s agriculture. View Full-Text

     

  3. Wildfire management of CA’s chaparral ecosystem can devastate wild bird populations and fire-risk reduction is only temporary- new study

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    • Although bird species diversity and abundances rebounded after one-time use of prescribed fires, most birds never returned to masticated sites. Mastication reduced the number of bird species by about 50 percent and reduced total numbers of birds by about 60 percent.
    • “The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk…Our study continues to build the case that we should live densely and away from chaparral.”

    February 14, 2018 University of Arizona read full ScienceDaily article here

    On the tail of California’s most destructive and expensive year of firefighting ever, it might seem obvious that vegetation removal would reduce the risk of such a year happening again. But scientists are showing that in chaparral, California’s iconic shrubland ecosystem, management can devastate wild bird populations and that fire-risk reduction is only temporary.

    …Chaparral is a fire-prone ecosystem in North America that is widespread throughout California. Although it makes up only 6 percent of California by area, it contains one-quarter of the species found in the California Floristic Province, a global biodiversity hotspot. To date, no other studies have compared the effects of different fire management types on California chaparral wildlife….

    …Although bird species diversity and abundances rebounded after one-time use of prescribed fires, most birds never returned to masticated sites. Mastication reduced the number of bird species by about 50 percent and reduced total numbers of birds by about 60 percent….

    …Much of California’s chaparral is burning too frequently to replace itself because of human-caused ignitions and longer wildfire seasons due to climate change. According to Scott Stephens, the principal investigator of the experiment at UC Berkeley, too-frequent fire can cause chaparral to be replaced by invasive grasses, which can increase fire risk.

    This leads to other problems. Grasses don’t hold soils in place, so deadly mudslides may follow wildfires, such as those in Santa Barbara, California….

    …”The best available science tells us that managing chaparral imperils wildlife and increases fire risk,” she said. “Our study continues to build the case that we should live densely and away from chaparral.”

    Erica A. Newman, Jennifer B. Potts, Morgan W. Tingley, Charles Vaughn, Scott L. Stephens. Chaparral bird community responses to prescribed fire and shrub removal in three management seasons. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13099

  4. Governor Brown Takes Action to Increase Zero-Emission Vehicles, Fund New Climate Investments

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    Jan 26 2018  see full news release here

    ….California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture and recycling, among other projects. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities….

    The $1.25 billion climate investment plan can be found here.

     

    Some specifics include:

    • Healthy and Resilient Forests (p 5)—$160 million of Cap and Trade funding for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to support forest improvement, fire prevention, and fuel reduction projects.
    • Healthy Soils (p 10):  Includes $5m in the budget and another $9 m from SB5 (the new bond measure) for a total of $14m.

     

     

     

  5. Nearly Half of California’s Vegetation at Risk From Climate Stress

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    • Slashing emissions to Paris climate agreement targets could reduce impacts on CA vegetation 20-30% per new UC Davis, USGS, CDFW, NPS study
    • Cutting emissions so that global temperatures increase by no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) could reduce those impacts by half, with about a quarter of the state’s natural vegetation affected.
    • It projects that at current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, vegetation in southwestern California, the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains becomes more than 50 percent impacted by 2100, including 68 percent of the lands surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego.
    • Areas projected to be more resilient include some coastal areas and parts of northwestern California.
    By Kat Kerlin on January 25, 2018  read full UCDavis article her

    Current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are putting nearly half of California’s natural vegetation at risk from climate stress, with transformative implications for the state’s landscape and the people and animals that depend on it, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis. However, cutting emissions so that global temperatures increase by no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) could reduce those impacts by half, with about a quarter of the state’s natural vegetation affected.

    The study, published in the journal Ecosphere, asks: What are the implications for the state’s vegetation under a business-as-usual emissions strategy, where temperatures increase up to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, compared to meeting targets outlined in the Paris climate agreement that limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius?

    “At current rates of emissions, about 45-56 percent of all the natural vegetation in the state is at risk, or from 61,190 to 75,866 square miles,” said lead author James Thorne, a research scientist with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis. “If we reduce the rate to Paris accord targets, those numbers are lowered to between 21 and 28 percent of the lands at climatic risk.”…

    …“This is the map of where we live,” Thorne said. “The natural landscapes that make up California provide the water, clean air and other natural benefits for all the people who live here. They provide the sanctuary for California’s high biodiversity that is globally ranked. This map portrays the level of climate risk to all of those things. In some cases, the transformation may be quite dramatic and visible, as is the case with wildfire and beetle outbreaks. In other cases, it might not be dramatically visible but will have impacts, nevertheless.”…

    …the data is helping the agency understand not only which parts of the state are vulnerable to climate change, but also which areas are more resilient, such as some coastal areas and parts of northwestern California, so they can ensure they remain resilient….

    Jim Thorne, Hyeyeyong Choe, Ryan Boynton, Jacqueline Bjorkman, Whitney Albright, Koren Nydick, Alan Flint, Lorraine Flint, Mark Schwartz. The impact of climate change uncertainty on California’s vegetation and adaptation management. Ecosphere.  DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2021  Volume 8, Issue 12 December 2017 e02021
  6. California’s Proposed Budget Reveals Water, Climate Priorities

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    • A recently released state budget proposal uses a science-based approach to allocating funds and includes money for water systems in disadvantaged communities, endangered species, wildfire fighting and conservation.
    • California’s budget states it will be “Basing Actions in Science,” especially as it assesses spending needs for climate change mitigation and adaptation. According to the plan, the “best available scientific understanding of how climate change is impacting the state … will serve as the foundation for how state agencies, local governments and the public respond to forecasted climate change impacts.”
    Written by Alastair Bland read full WaterDeeply article here
    919339361
    A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on a flare-up of the Blue Cut Fire along Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass in 2016. California’s proposed 2018–19 budget gives the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection $2.3 billion, which includes money for replacing and upgrading firefighting aircraft and vehicles.Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    For California governor Jerry Brown and his administration, 2017 was a water year to remember, and one that would figure into the drafting of the state’s 2018-19 budget, which was released early this month. The $190 billion proposed spending plan names California’s drought and the “extreme natural events of 2017” as determining factors in how the cash was divvied up.

    The budget, released just days after President Donald Trump mocked the science of climate change on Twitter, specifically outlines a science-based approach to allocating funds, especially with an eye toward the planet’s increasing temperatures and rising sea level.

    The 177-page document gives $9.8 billion to California’s Natural Resources Agency in the next fiscal year. The agency consists of 26 departments, commissions, conservancies and boards tasked with protecting and managing the state’s woodlands, open space, coastline, wildlife and water.

    Of that money, $4.7 million will go toward a new program of aiding communities in both “short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water.” This would achieve the goals of Senate Bill 623, a bill introduced into the 2016–17 legislative session but which is currently stalled in the Senate.

    ….more than 1 million Californians lack access to clean drinking water, notes that the budget doesn’t merely dedicate money toward the cause but actually initiates what he believes will become a long-term program…..The budget includes $4 billion that will be made available for parks, water resources and recreation if voters pass Senate Bill 5, a bond measure heading to the ballot in June. SB 5 allocates $140 million to groundwater protection and recharge strategies, and another $98 million to multibenefit flood protection strategies – including floodplain restoration. The bond measure would provide another $63 million for safe drinking water projects.

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will receive $610 million in the coming fiscal year. Focal areas for the department will include “conservation efforts on land, in rivers and streams, and in the ocean to benefit iconic species like salmon.” The budget also calls for “increasing efforts to recover key declining and endangered species.” ….

    ….California’s budget ….will serve as the foundation for how state agencies, local governments and the public respond to forecasted climate change impacts.”…

    …Mention of the Delta tunnels, which Brown has fervently promoted for years, was conspicuously absent from the budget, even though the state quietly unveiled interest in building a single-tube version of the project, called California WaterFix, on Friday, January 12.

    …“The fact that there’s no money for California WaterFix in the budget doesn’t mean that ratepayers and taxpayers in California aren’t being affected by this,” she said. The state auditor reported in October that the Department of Water Resources was guarding a pool of $286 million that it planned to use, in part, to fund development of the WaterFix project….

  7. Fire Ecology’s Lessons for a More Resilient Future

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    • In the wake of California wildfire’s mass destruction, ecologists see radical hope in regeneration.

     

    ….There is no silver lining to a fire like those that struck Sonoma and Napa counties in October, or the still-burning Thomas Fire in Southern California, which has burned 281,900 acres to become the largest California wildfire in modern recorded history. But for people like Willie and Erik Ohlsen, an ecological designer and director of the Permaculture Skills Center in Sebastopol, the North Bay fires are a wake-up call, a chance to proactively address the way the plants and animals of Northern California, and most of the Golden State, have co-evolved with fire—and to rebuild these communities with fire in mind.

    Others go further, saying that poor planning and land management practices turned a natural feature of chaparral landscapes into a catastrophic force, leaving in its wake $3 billion in estimated damages. The city of Santa Rosa alone has already blown through $5 million from their general fund to fight the fires and the massive recovery effort has just begun…

    Fight Fire with Fire

    ….Sasha Berleman, a fire ecologist with the Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR), an environmental conservation and education organization headquartered at Bouverie Preserve in the Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen. “All of our plant communities depend on fire as part of their life-cycle,” says Berleman. “Many of them depend on fire that occurs more frequently than we’ve allowed it to burn.”

    Native Americans knew this, Berleman says, and used fire to manage landscapes for food and textile production. As David Carle writes in Introduction to Fire in California, indigenous California tribes set fire to the landscape to reduce the threat of wildfires to their villages, to stimulate the sprouting of the stick-straight dogbane stems needed for basketry and tools, to control insects, fungus, and pathogens, and to encourage the growth of seeds.

    …Last May, Berleman conducted a few initial small, prescribed burns to reduce the fuel load on grasslands on the preserve. An early, informal assessment showed that these areas burned less intensely than other parts, and helped moderate the fire’s progression….

    “Fire can’t be prevented, it can only be postponed,” says Berleman. She advocates for two solutions to future fire threats.

    • First, an “all hands on deck” cooperative approach to fuels treatments on private and public land: prescribed fire, broadcast burning, mechanical thinning, and grazing.
    • Second, improved public education on the integral role of fire in California ecosystems. Recently, the state provided her funding to establish a highly trained, interagency fire crew to implement technically approved prescribed fuels treatments and controlled burns on private land in Sonoma County starting in the fall of 2018…

    Grazing: Land Management’s Missing Link?

    grazing is the missing link in managing rangelands for fire safety. For centuries, the California landscape was populated by large grazing animals like deer and elk, but those populations have severely declined with widespread human settlement. “If you don’t graze, it creates tinder,” says Hoff.

    Did Poor Planning Increase the Fire’s Devastation?

    ….The question of land use and development in areas with high fire risk has also come up regularly. Gaye LeBaron, a columnist for the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, wrote in the Washington Post about how Santa Rosa ignored nature’s warning by developing thousands of homes within the same footprint as the infamous Hanly Fire of 1964. The difference, wrote LeBaron, is that back then, “there were very few houses in the area that burned. As the city limits extended and the population increased by 135,000, the open land in that earlier fire corridor became a destination for developers.”

    …“Bigger homes, closer together is a recipe for more fuel on the landscape,” says Gregory L. Simon, an associate professor of geography and environmental sciences at the University of Colorado and author of Flame and Fortune in the American West. “In my opinion, we shouldn’t be building homes in areas of high fire risk at all. It’s not a matter of building fire-safe construction or zoning in certain ways. Simply because of the loss of life involved and the risk to first responders….

  8. California’s water saving brings bonus effects- electricity savings and GHG reductions

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    • The decrease in water usage translated into a significant electricity saving of 1,830 gigawatt hours (GWh) resulting in GHG emissions saved of 524,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), the equivalent of taking 111,000 cars off the road for a year.
    • water conveyance and use accounts for 19 per cent of total electricity demand and 32 per cent of total non-power plant natural gas demand state-wide

    January 11, 2018 IOP Publishing read full ScienceDaily article here

    Water-saving measures in California have also led to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and electricity consumption in the state.

    Measures to cut water use by 25 per cent across California were implemented in 2015, following a four-year drought in the state that caused the fallowing of 542,000 acres of land, total economic costs of $2.74 billion, and the loss of approximately 21,000 jobs.

    The UC Davis researchers found that, while the 25 per cent target had not quite been reached over the one-year period — with 524,000 million gallons of water saved — the measures’ impact had positive knock-on effects for other environmental objectives.

    In California, the water and energy utility sectors are closely interdependent. The energy used by the conveyance systems that move water from the wetter North to the drier and more heavily populated South — combined with utility energy use for treatment and distribution, end-user water consumption for heating, and additional pumping and treatment — accounts for 19 per cent of total electricity demand and 32 per cent of total non-power plant natural gas demand state-wide….

    Edward S Spang, Andrew J Holguin, Frank J Loge. The estimated impact of California’s urban water conservation mandate on electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Research Letters, 2018; 13 (1): 014016 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa9b89

  9. California: The Flood That Could Change Everything [must read esp. if you live in CA]

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    • California is spending billions to protect the millions at risk of a megaflood, but thanks to climate change, it’s too little too late.

    • California’s megaflood isn’t the stuff of fantasy flicks, it’s based on a 200-plus page piece of science that tested the limits of what was humanly possible in disaster prediction eight years ago known as the ARkStorm scenario… designed with an explicit purpose in mind: to objectively quantify and qualify the California’s threat of a coming flood that only a small group of niche scientists knew the bounds of at the time.
    • Climate change is increasing the chances that not only will these rare flood events become the norm in California, but that in the decades to come they could be even more intense than the one predicted here.

    By Eric Zerkel December 2017  read full Weather Channel article here

    ….The water will linger for days, weeks and in some places months. By the time it subsides the final toll will redefine the word catastrophe: More than $850 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation), more than four times costlier than Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. More than a million people forced to flee their homes in one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, and many who return will return to nothing.

    This is California’s megaflood, a catastrophe not seen in a lifetime, but one scientists, disaster experts and officials know is coming in a warming world. No one knows when it will come, but it has happened in centuries past, and these are just some of its scientifically predicted and realistic impacts in modern day California. 

    Now climate change is increasing the chances that not only will these rare flood events become the norm in California, but that in the decades to come they could be even more intense than the one predicted here.

    California’s once-in-centuries catastrophe is no longer a future problem. Billions of dollars of local, state and federal action to bolster the state’s outdated flood protections have come too late and isn’t enough to protect the millions of Californians currently at risk of such an event and the millions more who will be at risk in the decades to come.

    Californians are playing climate catch-up in a state that’s ground zero for climate change’s future megafloods…..

    ….June’s water bond, the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018, calls for another $4 billion in bonds for statewide parks and water projects, but only $1.3 billion of that is allocated for water projects, and further, only $550 million of it is set aside specifically for flood protection and repair.

    Of that $550 million, $350 million is designated to the DWR for flood management in the Central Valley, including $50 million specifically set aside for levee repairs in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Deltas.

    Some $100 million is available for grants for “stormwater, mudslide, and other flash-flood-related protections” and another $100 million for grants for “multibenefit projects in urbanized areas to address flooding” statewide.

    But the bill’s primary goal is investment in parks, particularly in communities without access to parks, leaving flood protection as a footnote. The bill’s author, Kevin De León called it “the single largest investment in the history of the United States to park-starved communities.”

    The proposed November bond, drafted by the former deputy secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, Jerry Meral, aims to be “complementary” to the June ballot measure and “make sure that no critical problem was totally ignored,” filling in some of the gaps of flood protection funding from the June bond.  …

    The Flood That Could Change Everything

    Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Water Resources (2013)

    The Flood That Could Change Everything

     

    The Flood That Could Change EverythingThis January 1862 photo shows floodwaters along K Street looking west from 4th street in Sacramento after the Great Flood of 1861-62. (California State Library, DWR)

    The Flood That Could Change Everything

    Changing Climate, Changing Floods

    Climate change’s expected increase in temperatures and extreme precipitation will combine to produce more epic floods in California. This graphic shows how warmer temperatures will melt snowpack quicker and dump more rain and less snow on mountain ranges, leading to more prolific floods. Source: California Department of Water Resources 2017

    The Flood That Could Change Everything

    One of the 23,000 homes flooded during the 1997 floods in California. (Norm Hughes/California Department of Water Resources)

  10. California is powering toward its climate goals. But it only gets harder from here.

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    • Just 19% of planet-warming emissions tracked by the state came from electricity in 2015; 23% from industrial facilities like oil refineries and cement plants, with smaller contributions from agriculture, gas heating systems at homes and businesses, and chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning; the biggest –39% of California’s emissions – the largest — came from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in 2015.

    Sammy Roth Dec. 26, 2017  read the full Desert Sun article here

    …The Golden State gets nearly half its electricity from climate-friendly sources, including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear. Carbon emissions keep inching downward, putting the state on track to reduce planet-warming pollution to 1990 levels by 2020, as mandated by state law.

    Some lawmakers think it’s time for more ambitious goals. State Senate leader Kevin de León introduced a bill last year that would have required the state to get 100 percent of is electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2045 — a big jump from current requirements.

    That bill wasn’t passed — at least not yet — but some utilities seem to have gotten the message. Investor-owned Southern California Edison recently released a plan for California to get 80 percent of its electricity from climate-friendly sources by 2030

    …But for all the progress California has made cleaning up its electricity, slashing carbon emissions is only going to get harder from here.

    Just 19 percent of planet-warming emissions tracked by the state came from electricity in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the California Air Resources Board. Twenty-three percent came from industrial facilities like oil refineries and cement plants, with smaller contributions from agriculture, gas heating systems at homes and businesses, and chemicals used in refrigeration and air conditioning.

    The biggest source of climate pollution was transportation. Thirty-nine percent of California’s emissions came from cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles in 2015….

    …a dramatic shift away from gasoline-powered vehicles over the next few decades will be a huge lift for California. One bright spot is that the cost of lithium-ion car batteries continues to drop, and automakers are offering ever-cheaper electric vehicles.

    …Continuing to ramp up clean electricity is also expected to get harder. The rapidly falling costs of solar and wind have led to stunning growth of those technologies, but the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Experts say California will need new strategies to get to 50 percent clean electricity, and ultimately 100 percent….

    …Options for scaling up renewable energy include lithium-ion battery storage, which like solar and wind is getting cheaper, as well as innovative energy management strategies, like encouraging people to use energy at different times of day through restructured electricity rates or incentive payments.

    Good old energy efficiency is probably the cheapest option. California’s per-capita electricity consumption has stayed flat since the mid-1970s, and a 2015 law calls for the state to double its energy-efficiency savings by 2030. That doubling will require more efficient buildings and appliances, as well as savings by industry and agriculture, according to the California Energy Commission.

    ….cities are looking to ditch their electric utilities and form “community choice aggregators,” in which local officials decide where to buy energy. The desire for cleaner energy is often a key motivation. By some estimates, investor-owned utilities like Edison could lose as much as 80 percent of their customer bases to community choice programs over the next decade. That’s worrying for the utility industry, but exciting for many clean energy advocates….