7 California Climate Wins in 2023 to Celebrate

California stepped up as a climate leader in key areas this year. Here are 7 of the top climate victories of 2023 to celebrate!

It feels like we’re constantly inundated by bad news, so here’s your positive climate news for the year (and proof that together, climate progress IS possible).

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1. California passed landmark corporate climate disclosure bills SB 253 and SB 261

These first-in-the-nation laws will require large corporations operating in the state to disclose both their carbon footprints and their climate-related financial risks starting in 2025.

SB 253’s carbon emission disclosures will apply to roughly 5,400 large companies, including multinational giants like Walmart, Apple, ExxonMobil, and Chevron.

2. Permits for new oil and gas wells ground to a halt in 2023

Permits for new oil and gas wells hit a record low in 2023 with just 24 approved, down from 551 in 2022 – a major victory and downward trajectory we will work to maintain into 2024.

While new permits are heading in the right direction, redrill or “rework” permits that extend the life of existing oil and gas drilling infrastructure have remained high over the years with 2,030 approved in 2023.

3. California is suing Big Oil

Gov. Newsom stepped up to fight Big Oil head-on with a historic lawsuit aimed at five oil giants: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron.

The suit claims the world’s biggest oil companies have caused “tens of billions of dollars in damage and that they deceived the public by downplaying the risks of fossil fuels.” If successful, the suit would create an “abatement fund to pay for the damages caused by climate related disasters in the state.”

4. California called for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty

In September, Caltornia became the largest economy in the world to endorse the international call for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.

The treaty is an important (non-binding) promise and litmus by governments to halt the expansion of fossil fuels, manage a phaseout of coal, oil and gas, and ensure a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.

5. California is putting Big Oil on the hook to clean up their own mess

In a major win for environmental justice, California passed the Orphan Well Prevention Act (AB 1167 to help address California’s crisis of idle oil and gas wells.

AB 1167 will require well operators to file bonds with CalGEM in an amount sufficient to cover, in full, all costs of plugging and abandonment and site restoration when an oil or gas well is purchased or transferred – protecting frontline communities from the toxic dangers of leaking idle wells near homes and schools, and protecting California taxpayers from shouldering the cost of cleanup.

6. California’s ballot referendum process just became more fair
California’s new referendum reform law AB 421 makes it easier to understand what’s on our ballots — and ultimately will make it harder for Big Oil and other corporate interests to trick voters into rolling back laws in the public interest.

AB 421 will change how “veto referendums” (ballot referendums that challenge an existing law/ appear on the ballot with clearer voting language and greater transparency. Veto referendums will now be phrased as an option to “keep the law” or “overturn the law”, and now the top financial donors of a referendum will be required to be disclosed to voters.

7. California held Big Oil accountable for gas price-gouging

After Big Oil’s record-smashing gas price hikes and profits in 2022, California passed SBX 1-2, creating an independent watchdog to protect consumers from Big Oil’s runaway gas price gouging.

SBX 1-2’s first-in-the-nation regulations allow the

SERCDC (State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission) to establish a maximum gross gasoline refining margin, and set a penalty for California-based refineries that surpass it.


Why not with us?

Thanks to Last Chance Alliance for this powerful roundup!