Energy, Climate and Community Resilience

Our civilization’s destructive dependence on capitalist economics, greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels and animal agriculture is rapidly destroying the local and global biospheres on which all life and the human species depend. Scientists are now calling this crisis the Sixth Global Mass Extinction, the first mass extinction in history caused by one species - humans. Immediate, rapid, and sustained cuts and drawdowns of greenhouse gas emissions from both fossil fuels and animal agriculture are imperative to reverse catastrophic climate effects.

There is now a strong global scientific consensus that deforestation and destruction of ocean life are together bringing about serious global climate warming and disruption. Because we have waited far too long to begin reversing this crisis, we now face a planet on which we can no longer fully avoid a catastrophic environmental collapse. Unprecedented polar and glacial melting, violent storm and flooding events, longer droughts, severe heat waves, more fierce wildfires, and mass human and animal migrations have already occurred and continue.

Science is now showing us that a radical and very rapid energy and land use transition is essential within the next decade if we are to avoid a mass extinction so severe that it could destroy almost all life on Earth and even drive humans to extinction.
Dramatic, immediate changes in how and where we generate and use energy are key to this transition.

Wasteful industrial, agricultural, and corporate energy use and emissions produce a majority of climate crisis impacts, and while responsibility for our personal energy use is important, it is even more important to change dramatically the behavior of these industrial and corporate interests.
In 2008, the Green Party and other organizations and leaders originated the Green New Deal strategy to undertake a 1930s ‘New Deal’ scale transformation, but in the 21st century, centered not just on reducing wealth divides, but on reversing the global climate and extinction crisis.

California must phase out all fossil fuels (including transportation and military fuels) and replace them with 100% clean renewable energy sources and use by 2035. The state, and local communities, must aggressively publicly fund and deploy many strategies and resources to achieve this unprecedented radical Green New Deal transition including all school students at all age levels being well educated on climate crisis threats and solutions.

Efficiency & Energy Use Reduction
The least expensive and easiest first transition is to reduce energy use, and greatly increase efficiency in our industries, devices, and homes.

Key energy efficiency and reduction strategies include:

* Full electrification of all industry, transportation and home energy use, while ensuring that true renewables like wind, solar, and geothermal electricity generation power our electrified devices and systems.

* Returning to reusable packaging and containers (instead of wasting energy to recycle them) and greatly reducing product and shipping packaging.

* Reducing our consumption of animal products as much as possible. These products require far more energy use to produce far fewer calories and less nutrition per energy unit than more efficient plant-based alternatives.

* Redesigning and restructuring our communities to be far more walkable and bikeable, and to center automotive transportation on mass transit and rail rather than personal cars, trucks and air travel. (Personal electric powered automobiles must be minimized because their manufacture and use require far more resources at far higher cost, transport far less efficiently, produce far more waste and pollution, and delay reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that can be more rapidly reduced by a transition to mass transit.)

* Coordinating local home and community electricity use to shift the times of day when high energy demand devices are used, to times of lower electricity demand (Demand Response). Further coordinate these device use changes through local computer smart grids that automatically coordinate them.

* Redesigning and restructuring our renewable electricity generation, storage and use to be far more localized and decentralized, so that households and communities are more self-sufficient and resilient with energy generated as closely as possible to where it is used. This makes homes, neighborhoods, and communities more resilient and protected from electricity outages. It also reduces the need for expensive, habitat destructive and wildfire dangerous long-range transmission lines.

Local, Decentralized, & Renewable Energy Use & Storage
While some large, industrial scale solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation, delivered over long- distance power lines will be needed in our energy transition, to the greatest extent possible renewable energy generation and use should be as diverse and as close as possible to the people, communities and industries served thus producing local community resilience, jobs and other community benefits. This reduces large scale energy losses delivered over long-range power lines (5 to 15% is lost) and also minimizes the centralized control of our energy sources and grid by private corporations. Localizing and decentralizing democratizes our energy sources, decision-making, and use.

Diverse, local, decentralized clean energy buildout plans must be centered on creating coordinated community and nearby regional networks of interlinked renewable electricity generation, electrified buildings and transit, battery and other storage, energy efficiency (including heat pumps), and smart microgrid installations* to provide the best and cleanest possible uninterrupted energy independence and resiliency. Such uninterrupted community-based energy networks are known as “Virtual Power Plants”).

Private vs Community Power
California's failed attempt to deregulate energy utilities showed the dangers of investing our energy future in the hands of an energy market committed only to maximizing profits. Private deregulation has failed to produce promised rate reductions for residents, and instead has caused bills to soar. Under deregulation, many of the state's utility generation facilities were sold to out-of-state companies who then sold that power on the open free market at exorbitant profits. Since Municipal Utility Districts and other community based and public regional power agencies run more efficiently at lower cost and provide better customer service than monopoly ‘Investor Owned Utilities’, a dramatic shift to government funded community-based and -owned, decentralized clean and renewable energy is needed.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is corrupt and controlled by private utility and industry capture, and greatly favors privatized for-profit energy control and delivery, while placing barriers in the path of rooftop solar and other community-based clean energy because these compete with the monopoly corporations. The CPUC, instead of being appointed by the Governor, should be transformed into a more democratic, publicly elected Citizens Utility Board to coordinate energy generation and use statewide. This board should prioritize and subsidize localized, decentralized, community based, clean and renewable energy generation and use, and should promote and subsidize rooftop solar panel installation.

Climate, Energy & Economic Justice
California’s most economically vulnerable communities are also the most vulnerable to both air pollution from fossil fuel energy burning and climate crisis impacts such as heat waves, electricity blackouts, wildfire smoke, and sea level rise. Such communities also face major hurdles in their economic ability to adopt rooftop solar, storage, microgrids, and other clean energy advances that would save money, improve local air quality, and bolster resiliency from electricity shutoffs. The GPCA supports local clean energy buildout plans which prioritize these frontline communities to be first in line for clean energy installations, with the local union jobs and local business opportunities that they provide. The GPCA calls on all jobs in the Green New Deal transition to be union jobs.

The GPCA strongly supports the rights of frontline communities, indigenous communities and others, to protest and engage direct action to halt any-and-all polluting energy extraction and use, to protect both their own communities and the global biosphere. We call on all courts and judges to recognize that such protests and direct action constitute legal self-defense and defense of others and the environment, and call on legal systems to release and financially compensate all people who have been harmed, jailed or imprisoned for engaging in such acts. The GPCA condemns as illegal, private interests contracting with public law enforcement and/or using their own private security to police such protests.

Existing True Renewable & Ecological Solutions vs Techno-Fixes & Geoengineering
For decades sufficient, truly clean, renewable, energy and efficiency technologies, and ecological restoration strategies have already been available and could have been used long ago to transition the Earth to 100% clean and carbon free energy use, while reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Claims in the media and from polluting industries that new ‘right around the corner’ technologies are somehow needed to make the transition to a clean energy world are false. They are being used to purposely mislead the public against, and to delay, the roll-out of existing technologies like solar, wind and geothermal electricity generation, paired with traditional energy efficiency, battery and other energy storage, to bring us a 100% carbon-free energy system by mid-century at the latest and potentially even within one or two decades.

The GPCA opposes such false ‘solutions’ including: nuclear power (including so called ‘third generation’ and ‘small’ ‘modular’ nuclear) **, carbon-capture and storage (CCS), carbon trading/credits, geoengineering (such as seeding the atmosphere or the oceans with molecules designed to alter them or reduce global heating), fusion, cold-fusion, biofuels, ‘renewable’ diesel, biomass, biochar, biogas, seaweed biomass, algae fuels, hydrogen (including ‘green’ hydrogen), forest ‘thinning’, genetically engineered energy crops and organisms, ‘waste to energy’ schemes (including pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion), so called ‘regenerative’ or ‘holistic’ livestock grazing, and many others.

These so called ‘solutions’ are almost invariably expensive, dangerous, environmentally destructive, often increase (rather than reduce) greenhouse gas emissions, and cannot be developed soon enough or cost effectively enough to impact immediate climate crisis tipping points which must be reversed now, not later with future technologies. The GPCA calls for a halt to all subsidies (including government insurance coverage and bankruptcy bailouts) for these technologies, and for an aggressive rollout of existing, low cost technologies, transportation solutions (and ecological solutions such as reforestation, ocean restoration, and a shift to more plant-based diets) to reverse the climate crisis.

Particularly problematic are strategies that would reduce global heating while not reducing actual CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Reducing heating while not reducing CO2 would allow continued acidifying of waterbodies and the oceans, thereby destroying key microbes which absorb CO2 and produce a majority of the Earth’s breathable oxygen.

Both agriculture and forest based ‘bio’ energy, and so called ‘regenerative’ livestock grazing are also very problematic because their use at large scales requires vast transitional expansions of land use (also known as Indirect Land Use Change) which forces existing land uses elsewhere, leading to deforestation, and worse (not better) greenhouse gas outcomes.

Hydroelectric Power
Large hydroelectric dam power generation brings with it a host of serious environmental problems. These include: large scale habitat destruction to create reservoirs, covering with water vast land areas that could instead be restored to become greenhouse gas absorbing wildlife habitat, loss of precious water due to evaporation from standing reservoirs, drastic interference with river/stream habitats and wildlife, and devastation of salmon and other threatened and endangered species. Contrary to outdated assumptions, new science is showing that hydroelectric dams release substantially higher greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere than was previously believed due to factors such as methane-emitting biological activity caused by rotting vegetation.*** For these reasons, the GPCA does not consider large hydroelectric power from dams/reservoirs to be clean or renewable and supports their most rapidly achievable phased removal. However, the GPCA considers hydropower from natural waterfalls, rapids, ocean waves, and tidal bores to be renewable.

Natural Gas & Methane
Since the climate crisis was first recognized, it has been incorrectly claimed by industry and even many environmentalists that natural gas burning is somehow less carbon emitting than coal and oil burning. Updated science now clearly shows that because of extensive leaking of natural gas as it is drilled, mined, transported, and used, it is no less greenhouse gas polluting than coal or oil burning and in some cases is even more climate polluting, especially in the case of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) which is one of the most expensive and environmentally destructive methods of fossil fuel energy production. Because methane (the main component of natural gas) is nearly 100 times more effective at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than CO2, near-term dramatic reduction of methane releases from energy production and animal agriculture is vital to reversing the climate crisis.

Fracking, Shale, & Tar Sands Energy Mining
The GPCA strongly opposes fracking and other high intensity energy extraction as an incredibly environmentally destructive industry, and as an economic and energy-return-on-investment boondoggle.

In fracking (hydraulic fracturing) natural gas, oil or geothermal energy trapped in shale or rock, fuels are extracted by high pressure well injection of water containing sand, ceramics or other “inert” materials forcing cracks in shale and rock to open releasing the fuels. Fracking injection water (often reused toxic industrial wastewater) usually contains toxic chemicals added purposely to aid in extracting fuels. Fracking also causes existing natural toxic and radioactive contaminants to be released from shale and rock. Added fracking chemicals are commonly not disclosed to government agencies and the public under the cover of being labeled ‘trade secrets’. Fracking has also been shown to artificially trigger destructive earthquakes. Other high intensity methods of extraction of fuels that are very difficult to reach or process include tar sands oil extraction and conventional shale extraction. In California, shale extraction often involves the use of toxic hydrofluoric acid.

These high intensity extraction methods tend to be even more damaging to the environment and water sources than traditional methods, and often cause a very high degree of methane leakage into the atmosphere, worsening the climate crisis. They are rarely economically or energy profitable, usually require financial investment higher than the actual profits made from selling the extracted fuels, and counterintuitively require more energy inputs than fossil fuel energy output produced. The fracking industry would not even exist without subsidies, bailouts and market manipulation.

The Obama administration vastly expanded fracking to increase domestic fuel production and to greatly reduce fossil fuel prices by creating a market supply glut, thereby deeply harming the economies of its oil and gas-producing enemies such as Russia and Venezuela. The U.S. also pushed the expansion of fracking to become a global industry. Fracking wells now make up a majority of all new oil and gas wells both in the U.S. and worldwide. In California, most fracking is done for oil (both on-shore and off-shore) and has been increased under successive Democratic Party governors.

The GPCA demands that health professionals, government agencies and the public be allowed full immediate access to all information about the specific chemical and waste components of fracking fluids, as well as data on medical patients who may have been exposed to contamination from fracking.



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Amended and approved by the GPCA online General Assembly on June 18, 2023