Senate Passes Senator Cortese’s Resolution Making Climate Restoration A Top Policy Priority

July 14, 2023

Earlier this month, the State Senate passed Senator Dave Cortese’s SR-34, marking the state’s first Resolution to formally recognize humanity’s duty to future generations to restore a safe climate for long-term human survival. The landmark Resolution emphasizes the importance of climate restoration and calls upon the U.S. to propose an international climate treaty to restore and stabilize greenhouse gas levels.

“Tackling the climate crisis requires a collective global effort, but it all begins with individuals uniting in their communities and taking incremental steps for a cleaner environment. These local collaborations link together across regions and countries and grow into a powerful worldwide movement to mitigate climate change,” said Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). “SR-34 calls on the state and nation to recognize climate restoration as an essential tool in our pursuit of global environmental justice and climate change resilience.

“While everyone really wants our grandchildren to have a safe climate, this resolution is the first time that a government has made that commitment explicitly. It wasn’t needed 30 years ago, but it is now. I hope that the US, other nations and the UN follow suit before this year’s UN climate conference in Dubai,” said Peter Fiekowsky, physicist, entrepreneur, and Founder of the Foundation for Climate Restoration.

“Climate restoration” means restoring CO2 concentrations back to safe levels that have historically supported human survival. To achieve this, about one trillion tons of old CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere. Restoration can be achieved by imitating natural processes that remove CO2. Examples include boosting the creation of limestone and the growth of underwater plants that encourage photosynthesis, which cools the earth. These methods are relatively affordable and have the potential to remove all the world’s “legacy CO2,” or human-caused CO2 that has accumulated over time, by 2050.

Senator Cortese has dedicated his career to driving progress on local and global climate policy, as well as equipping younger generations with the knowledge and tools to address the defining issue of their lives. In August 2019, Senator Cortese, then a Santa Clara County Supervisor, spearheaded the Climate Restoration Emergency Resolution, a first-of-its-kind document that urged immediate mobilization of resources at all levels, from local to international, to address the climate emergency. To raise awareness about the Resolution on a global stage, Senator Cortese was the only elected official to address the first annual Climate Restoration Forum held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in 2019.

Senator Cortese also led the County Climate Coalition in partnership with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, reaffirming Santa Clara County’s commitment to meet emission reduction deadlines outlined in the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement. He also created the “Silicon Valley Kids Climate Club,” a series of lessons and resources designed to teach climate change, developed with the assistance of climate science experts.