State or National:
Climate Change Action Policy
Climate change affects nearly everything – our ecosystem, our society, our health, our economy, and even our democracy. The League of Women Voters of California has recognized the urgent need for action on climate change, declaring a “Climate Emergency” at the 2019 Convention.
When advocating for action on climate we must recognize the many interrelationships involved and guard against unintended consequences. For example, wind turbines kill birds, but climate change kills more of them. Solar is not totally carbon-free; it requires supply from mining and discarding used equipment is polluting. Such risks must be considered with an eye to the big picture, rather than focusing only on the risk or benefit of any single action.
The League of Women Voters of California supports actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change in order to protect our state from the negative physical, social, economic, and public health effects. Local Leagues and ILOs are urged to engage with this issue at both the local and regional levels. Our actions are designed to:
Justification for Climate Change Action Policy Elements
This section specifies national and state League positions that justify elements of the proposed Action Policy. The full position statements are given in the LWVUS publication Impact on Issues and the LWVC publication Action Policies and Positions.
The League’s position is to preserve the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the ecosystem, with maximum protection of public health and the environment. Climate change is, by far, the greatest challenge to the balance of our ecosystem.
Statement of Position on Climate Change Policy, as announced by the National Board, January 2019: The League believes that climate change is a serious threat facing our nation and our planet. The League believes that an interrelated approach to combating climate change—including through energy conservation, air pollution controls, building resilience, and promotion of renewable resources—is necessary to protect public health and defend the overall integrity of the global ecosystem. The League supports climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations. Individuals, communities, and governments must continue to address this issue, while considering the ramifications of their decisions, at all levels—local, state, regional, national, and global.
Natural Resources Overarching Position Statement
Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest.
Natural Resources: Promote the management of natural resources as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems.
Resource Management: Promote resource conservation, stewardship and long-range planning, with the responsibility for managing natural resources shared by all levels of government.
Environmental Protection and Pollution Control: Preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem, with maximum protection of public health and the environment.
Public Participation: Promote public understanding and participation in decision making as essential elements of responsible and responsive management of our natural resources.
The League supports legislative solutions, including setting caps on greenhouse gas pollution, putting a price on GHG pollution, encouraging conservation and renewable energy, and investing in a new clean energy economy. In 2008, the LWVUS called on Congress to enact legislation to significantly cut the greenhouse gas emissions which cause global warming and supported increased energy efficiency and a shift to a clean, renewable energy. We supported the 2015 Clean Power Plan.
LWVC Positions and Action Policies
Air Quality Position in Brief (1971/73)
The League supports measures to establish air quality standards that will protect the public health and welfare, and the development of effective enforcement and implementation procedures at each level of government to attain these standards.
Summary of Air Quality positions applicable to climate change: We support setting air quality standards at the state level that may be stricter than national standards; support lower levels of government in the enforcement of the standards and encourage a program of educating and instructing the public. We believe that the cost of converting industry from polluting to nonpolluting practices should be borne primarily by industry. We encourage the establishment of a well developed mass transit system designed to reduce automobile travel.
Energy Position in Brief (1978/80; 2006/07)
The League supports development of a state energy policy that will ensure reliability of energy resources and protection of the environment and public health and safety, at reasonable customer rates, giving primary consideration to conservation and energy efficiency. State government should provide an efficient, coordinated energy administrative structure with open transparent procedures.
Summary of Energy positions applicable to climate change: State agencies should give primary consideration to conservation and energy efficiency. In acquiring new electric resources, major additional factors to consider include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and development and deployment of renewable resources. Statewide standards should be set for renewable resource development and use economic/market and other incentives to foster renewable energy, conservation, demand-side management and greenhouse gas reductions. Decisions at the regional level should incorporate participation by local governments. Local governments should promote energy conservation, especially in relation to building codes, transportation, resource recovery, and public information. Any direct-access (choice of a provider) policy should not result in additional cost to the remaining core customers.
Land Use Position in Brief (1975)
The League supports state land use planning that recognizes land as a resource as well as a commodity. The state should establish guidelines and standards for land areas of more than local concern. Decisions for these areas should be made at the lowest level of government feasible, but should be subject to state review. Citizens must have a meaningful participation in land use planning and regulation.
Summary of Land Use positions applicable to climate change: State policies, guidelines, and standards should be developed for land areas such as fragile or historic lands, renewable resource lands, natural hazard lands, and land impacted by public investment. State land use planning should be part of an integrated overall state planning effort, with environmental, social and economic impact statements required on major developments.
Transportation Position in Brief (1981/85, 1991)
The League supports a transportation system to move people and goods that includes a variety of transportation modes, with emphasis on increased public transportation services and other viable alternatives to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT); is efficient, convenient, and cost effective; is safe and secure; serves all segments of the population and diverse geographic needs; minimizes harmful effects on the environment; is integrated with land use; and is supported by extensive public education.
Summary of Transportation positions applicable to climate change: Transportation and land use planning should be integrated to promote reduced vehicle miles traveled through a jobs/housing balance and requirements that land use development facilitate use of transit and other alternatives to single occupant vehicles. Planning for transportation should promote strategies to influence travel behavior, such as fees, taxes, and tolls, combined with mitigation measures for low income persons.
Sustainable Communities Action Policy (1999)
Definition: Sustainable communities recognize their interdependence with the global community and seek to meet current economic, environmental, and social demands through equitable and democratic means without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs . . . the full social and environmental costs of production, provision, and disposal of goods and services are acknowledged . . . .
General Statement: Sustainability refers to the dynamic among ecological, economic, and social systems on a global scale. It demands consideration of the interactions among positions in different program areas. League positions speak of preservation and conservation, of stewardship, of considering long term benefits and meeting future
Principles of sustainability are reflected in most program areas, although often they are implicit rather than explicit:
- With respect to government, positions support policies that promote equity, flexibility, and responsibility so that democratic government is encouraged and protected.
- With respect to natural resources, positions support protection and wise management in the public interest to promote an environment beneficial to life.
- With respect to social policy, positions promote the equity, justice, education, and nurturing essential to a sustainable society.
Growth Management Action Policy (1992)
In summary, this LWVC policy seeks to promote management of growth and land use at the level of impact on systems, whether local, regional, or statewide. Impacts include natural resources, air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources. League positions mentioned in the policy that are pertinent to climate change include:
- Recognition of land as a resource as well as a commodity (LWVC–Land Use)
- Identification and regulation of land areas such as fragile or historic lands, renewable resource lands (LWVC–Land Use #1), including the long-term protection of land appropriate for agriculture (LWVC–Agriculture); natural hazard lands and lands impacted by public investment (LWVC–Land Use #1)
- Environmental social and economic impact statements on major developments, public and private (LWVC–Land Use #2b)
- Integration of transportation and land use planning to promote reduced vehicle miles travelled through a jobs/housing balance and requirements that land use development facilitate use of transit and other alternatives to single-occupant vehicles (LWVC–Transportation #1)
- Growth management decisions should relate to and protect the overall quality of the environment.