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Fighting for our Right to a Zero-Emissions California

Zero emissions, zero excuses. California is leaping ahead to a clean air and clean energy future.

Zero emissions, zero excuses. California is leaping ahead to a clean air and clean energy future.
Zero emissions, zero excuses. California is leaping ahead to a clean air and clean energy future. (Sean Pavone / Shutterstock)

This page was published 6 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

We are taught to think of zero as meaning nothing. But in the fight for our climate and clean air, zero means everything. Zero-emissions technology, that is.

With our new Right to Zero campaign, Earthjustice is fighting for zero-emissions policies that will drive a massive shift in the way we use energy and transport goods, services and ourselves across California. From transit buses to garbage trucks to our electrical grid, we are setting our sights and standards high by accepting only zero-emission technologies—meaning they produce no air pollutants that damage our health or disrupt our climate.

This can happen at a rapid pace with enough powerful advocacy: Los Angeles Metro recently voted on America’s largest investment in electric buses, thanks to the efforts of a broad coalition that included Earthjustice and our attorney Adrian Martinez. Los Angeles will now be investing $138 million into electric buses that won’t pollute the air or disrupt our climate—and these buses will support manufacturing jobs right in the Golden State. Los Angeles also recently committed to a fully electric bus fleet by 2030, ditching natural gas buses altogether.

Why is this so important? Because our lives literally depend on it.

Californians breathe the dirtiest air in the nation—which causes more than 3,500 preventable air pollution-related deaths each year. Communities around pollution-heavy ports and trucking corridors are hit especially hard with higher rates of asthma and frequent emergency room visits. Our elected representatives have put California on the map for strong environmental protections, but they have lost their way when it comes to clean air. Policies that lock us into fossil fuels and create more pollution will not protect our climate and health. Only a truly zero-emissions future—not one with diesel trucks or natural gas alternatives—can bring health and justice to Californians.

At the same time, the Trump administration is dismantling hard-fought policies that have finally started to improve lives and protect our environment. In the face of climate change, the administration is only interested in appeasing dirty industry interests. It is trying to take us back to a place where dirty coal plants and diesel trucks emit toxins with abandon.

Only a truly zero-emissions future can bring health and justice to Californians.

Californians are in a unique position to do what we do best: lead. We have long been leaders in the fight for justice and progress, especially when it comes to our health and the environment. We are the ones who stand up and change our laws and lifestyles. We consistently beat  renewable energy goals. Now we must harness the energy and power that makes California a global force for good in the fight for zero emissions. 

A zero-emission California is not a pipe dream. Zero-emissions energy and transportation technologies are ready now. Every investment made in polluting fossil fuels and technologies is a wasted opportunity to address our health, climate and economic needs.

We’re building momentum toward zero across the state. For example:

  • Hundreds of electric trucks and buses now move through California, including nearly 1,000 medium and heavy-duty trucks and more than 400 zero-emissions buses.
  • LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia have directed the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move off dirty diesel and other fossil fuels and toward zero-emissions equipment by 2035.
  • The California State Senate has passed SB 100, which sets a goal for the state to be powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy for California by 2045.

Right to Zero means creating healthy, reliable and affordable energy that can power the world’s sixth largest economy and fits the California spirit of innovation, equity and leadership.

Solar jobs alone in California passed the 100,000 jobs marker in 2016, far outpacing other states. Renewable energy is increasingly more competitive, from manufacturing to maintenance, installation and business management—zero-emissions jobs provide the secure, high-paying employment that will drive our economy. 

We cannot rely on the fossil fuel industry and our elected representatives to decide when it is convenient to start building a zero-emissions future. We are fighting for ours now—zero-emissions, zero excuses.


We don’t have to imagine a zero-emissions future. We can live it. Our new Right to Zero blog series will track the Right to Zero campaign to transform our energy grid and transportation for a zero-emissions California. While the Trump administration fails to lead on climate and health issues in Washington, D.C., Californians are pushing for a zero-emissions state now. Follow Right to Zero to see how Earthjustice is fighting for zero-emissions technologies at our ports, power plants, freeways and bus routes.

Based in the California regional office in San Francisco, CA, Paul's work focuses on air pollution matters, specifically in the San Joaquin Valley.

The California Regional Office fights for the rights of all to a healthy environment regardless of where in the state they live; we fight to protect the magnificent natural spaces and wildlife found in California; and we fight to transition California to a zero-emissions future where cars, trucks, buildings, and power plants run on clean energy, not fossil fuels.