Scott Wiener is a Democratic state senator from California, who introduced the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act, passed by lawmakers in September. The first-of-its-kind bill in the U.S. will require major companies that do business in California to disclose direct and indirect greenhouse-gas emissions.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
We need to move much more quickly to build the climate-friendly housing and infrastructure essential to climate action. Over the past half century, we’ve methodically made it harder and slower to build anything, whether new sustainably located homes, new public transportation, new clean energy, or new infrastructure to protect against sea level rise and wildfires. We’ve done so with unending process and lawsuits—empowering a vocal and well-funded minority to stop climate progress. We can no longer afford this delay and obstruction. We need a better and faster permit process—one that identifies environmentally sustainable types of projects and gets them going quickly.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
We need a climate movement that goes to bat for urbanist issues like housing and public transportation. We know that to meet our emissions goals on the timeline science demands, we have to reduce vehicle miles traveled—EVs alone are not enough. We can double down on polluting, climate-vulnerable sprawl or transition toward more intentionally designed communities, where people live near everything they need and affordable public transportation connects them to it. Too often, climate activists oppose or ignore these changes because they don’t trust developers. We need to find ways to work together and literally build a better world.
What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?
California is considering sending a $15 billion bond for climate resilience to the ballot next year. The money will go towards climate adaptation projects like seawalls, wildfire protection projects, and urban parks and green spaces to counter extreme heat. These investments are desperately needed—the future comes to California first, and that has unfortunately included dealing with the devastating impacts of climate-driven wildfires, floods, and drought. We’ve been grateful to receive some support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but more needs to be done to protect our communities from climate risks that have already been locked in.
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