VIDEO: California’s SB 253 & SB 261, plus mid-year electricity insights

October 12, 2023

The Week in Sustainability – October 9–13

A photo of power lines with a sunset as the backdrop.

New California laws to reshape climate reporting

The new climate legislation in the Golden State is, and has been, making big headlines. Governor Gavin Newsom has put his signature on SB 253 and SB 261. Starting in 2026, California will expect businesses generating more than $1 billion in revenue to publicly disclose their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Furthermore, companies with revenue surpassing $500 million must highlight their climate-related financial risks, according to SB 261. While the SEC’s similar initiative focuses mainly on public companies, California’s legislation casts a considerably wider net.

Ember’s deep dive into 2023’s power trends

Independent energy think tank Ember’s recent analysis revealed some telling data on the global power sector. Its goal? Ascertain whether we’re on the right track to attain net-zero emissions by 2035. Results are mixed, which suggests we’re on the cusp of a monumental shift.

  1. Renewable energy’s meteoric rise: Between January and June 2023, wind and solar generation globally increased by 12%. In comparison, fossil fuel generation barely budged, growing only by 0.1%. Notably, 50 countries set new records in solar energy production.
  2. Hydropower’s unexpected dip: Despite being the oldest renewable source, hydropower faced challenges in 2023. As China grappled with heatwaves and droughts, its hydropower generation—the largest globally—decreased by 8.5%. Consequently, coal burning became a necessary evil to bridge the gap—a glaring reminder of the climate’s capriciousness and potential impact on the pace of energy transition.
  3. Power sector emissions show new patterns: Since 2000, only twice have we seen a reduction in power sector emissions. After the 2009 financial crisis and during the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic. Though we witnessed only a minor increase this year, experts believe we would’ve seen a decrease without the unexpected hydropower shortfall.

Time to power up the renewables revolution

2023 has shown us the tangible impact of renewables in our energy mix. The shift is undeniable, but the rate of the shift must get more aggressive and keep pace. As the power landscape changes, so must our strategies. It’s high time we champion renewables more than ever and aim for a zero-emission power sector. 

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1. Ember, “Global Electricity Mid-Year Insights 2023,” Accessed October 12, 2023

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Hannah Asofsky
Hannah Asofsky is a sustainability data analyst at Sustain.Life.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
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