By Garrison Frost, Director of Marketing and Communications—Audubon California

Yellow-billed Magpie, Panoche Valley, CA, 2007, Image by Brian Sullivan

Yellow-billed Magpie, Panoche Valley, CA, 2007, Image by Brian Sullivan

With the threat to birds and people from global warming becoming more apparent every day, Audubon California is supporting a broad swath of bills in the state’s 2015 legislative session addressing the dangers of climate change.

Recent Audubon research shows that global warming caused by carbon pollution will threaten 170 California bird species in the coming decades. Birds at risk include iconic species such as the Brown Pelican, Golden Eagle, Allen’s Hummingbird, and Yellow-billed Magpie.

While air pollution in the form of greenhouse gas emissions is the leading cause of these changes in the environment, air pollution also poses an immediate threat to public health, as well as the health of our birds and environment.

“Taking aggressive action on carbon pollution helps us protect two of California’s greatest assets – our communities and our natural treasures,” said Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California. “With the national discussion on global warming stalled, California is now leading the way in addressing this important issue, in a way that stands to benefit both birds and people.”

The California State Senate leadership, led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, in February announced a broad package of climate change proposals intended to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. The two most prominent bills in this package include Senate Bill 32, which would expand California’s current climate pollution reduction target to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; and Senate Bill 350, which calls for a 50% reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks, a 50% increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and a goal of 50% of state utilities’ power coming from renewable energy, all by 2030.

While the Senate leadership’s legislation largely seeks to limit the amount of pollution going into the atmosphere that creates global warming and public health issues, other important bill in this legislative session seek to help birds and habitat meet the challenges of a changing environment.

For example, Assembly Bill 498 would establish state policy calling to preserve the most important wildlife corridors. Assembly Bill 1482 would create a Strategic Growth Council that will oversee climate adaptation for critical habitat. Audubon California is co-sponsoring both of these bills.

Western Tanager Vol. 81 No. 6 July/August 2015