CALPIRG Students at UCSB held a rally Monday in conjunction with the office of Third District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann, in support of transitioning the state of California to 100% Clean Energy and improving clean transportation in Santa Barbara County.

The press conference highlighted UCSB’s leadership in clean energy and clean transportation, reinforcing that 100% clean energy is within reach, and California should continue to lead the way. CALPIRG Students is an independent statewide student organization that works on issues like environmental protection, civic engagement, and hunger and homelessness.

“I developed asthma when I was young and in recent years, with wildfires raging across our state, filling our air with toxic chemicals, my lungs have only gotten worse,” said Sean McArthur, CALPIRG Students’ 100% Clean Energy Campaign coordinator and chapter chair, on the urgency of acting on climate change,.

“We are the first generation feeling the worst impacts of climate change and the last ones that can stop it,” McArthur said, highlighting the need to address the issues of climate change now.

“I want my children to not know what it’s like not having record breaking fire seasons every year and instead of seeing gas stations on every corner they see electric vehicle charging stations because we decided to stop burning fossil fuels,” he said.

Following the passage of SB100, committing the state of California to zero-carbon electricity by 2045, the University of California system committed to power campuses with 100% clean purchased electricity — both initiatives led by CALPIRG Students.

McArthur said that while SB100 and the UC commitment were huge wins for the state, more needs to be done to address climate change. 

“That’s just the first step. We need to be bolder if we want to prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” he said.

“For truly mitigating climate change, we need to wean ourselves off of all fossil fuels,” said Ranjit Deshmukh, assistant professor of environmental studies at UCSB,

Deshmukh said the 2045 goal of SB100, being 25 years from now, is too long. “We know that California and its neighboring states have the renewable resources to meet our goals,” he said.

At the same time, Deshmukh said we have the technology it takes to meet our clean energy goals earlier and that “wind and solar are already the least cost resources out there, ” something that his lab, the Clean Energy Transformation Lab (CETlab), actively works on.

“We know we can reach our 100% clean energy targets earlier than 2045, perhaps even 2030,” he said.

Hartmann praised CALPIRG Students on organizing students around the issues of our generation for decades. Specifically, she acknowledged the organization’s leadership in bringing the issue of plastic pollution to the fore.

Hartmann told the conference she was “really excited for the 100% Clean Energy campaign because we have done a lot at the local level working with students at UCSB.” Specifically, she touted one of the county’s biggest accomplishments: community choice energy.

Hartmann also said she recognizes that transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in our county. “That’s where we need to focus,” she said, while applauding the UCSB campus for its use of new modes of mobility like bikes and electric scooters.

Hartman called the students to action saying: “We’re committed to cleaning up our own house (as county government), and that’s what each of us has to do, is clean up our own house and our own campus.”