California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds

California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds
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A new analysis by a non-partisan business group finds that California’s climate policies have been a boon for the state’s economy.

Assembly Bill 32, also known as AB 32 or the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, requires California to reduce climate-cooking greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — which meant cutting emissions about 25 percent from where they were at in 2006, when AB 32 was passed by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to the analysis from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2analysis, AB 32 and related climate policies have pumped some $48 billion into the state economy over the past decade while helping create about 500,000 jobs.

The emissions targets established by AB 32 and the programs that were created to achieve them have funded solar, wind and energy efficiency projects in communities across California and given clean energy investors and companies confidence in the state’s energy market. The upshot, E2 found, is that every single one of the state’s 80 Assembly districts have benefitted from the Golden State’s climate leadership over the past decade.

“It’s clear that AB 32 and related policies are already paying off big time for California’s economy,” E2 executive director Bob Keefe wrote in a blog post. “Today, the state is by far the nation’s leader in clean energy jobs and investments. No other state comes close.”

California is on pace to meet the emissions reductions set by AB 32, and legislators are now considering Senate Bill 32 (SB 32), which require the state to take the next step and reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But, according to the LA Times, “it appears that lawmakers will punt, rather than vote, on one of the most important environmental decisions facing California.”

California Governor Jerry Brown reportedly plans to continue pushing for the legislation, even if he has to take it directly to voters via a ballot measure campaign in 2018.

Gov. Brown isn’t the only one urging the passage of SB 32: A bipartisan group of California mayors representing eight of the largest cities in the state is calling for state legislators to pass SB 32 without delay.

“Our cities continue to bear witness to the consequences of a changing climate,” the mayors wrote. “From record heat and fire to the continued water quality and availability challenges of the drought, we are increasingly challenged by the consequences of climate change.”

Nearly 200 business leaders have also weighed in with their support of SB 32, writing in a letter that “Businesses and investors need the market certainty that a new climate target will create, and we need it this year to avoid disruption of the economic growth and job creation in this sector that California has enjoyed as a result of our climate policies.”

Nearly 60 business, environmental, public health, and consumer advocacy groups, including the American Heart & Lung Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the U.S Green Building Council, California, have also written a letter, which was delivered to all members of the California Assembly. In it, the groups wrote:

We must keep driving down carbon pollution to avoid the worst effects of climate change, which is already taking a toll. Wildfires burn longer and hotter. Droughts are more severe. And sea level rise threatens our coasts. But California is showing how to reduce fossil fuels and grow clean energy in every corner of the state. A YES vote on SB 32 shows the world that the California legislature will continue to lead the fight for clean air, thriving communities, and a healthy planet.

Any delay in passing new climate targets will send the wrong message to the clean energy industry in California and could send businesses to other states that are actively recruiting clean energy technology companies, Nicole Lederer, chair and co-founder of E2, said in a statement.

“The economic benefits of California’s leadership on climate change are clear and measurable,” Lederer said. “This is not the time to retreat. California businesses require the market certainty that comes with SB 32. Delaying passage of SB 32 any longer will threaten clean energy jobs and undermine investment in one of the fastest growing sectors of California’s economy.”

Image Credit: A view of solar panels installed in 2011 on the roof of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Headquarters, San Diego, CA. Photo by Rick Naystatt / U.S. Navy.

California Climate Policies a $48 Billion Boon for State’s Economy, Analysis Finds
Mike Gaworecki is a San Francisco-based journalist who writes about energy, climate, and forest issues for DeSmogBlog and Mongabay.com. His writing has appeared on BillMoyers.com, Alternet, Treehugger, Change.org, Huffington Post, and more. He is also a novelist whose debut “The Mysticist” came out via FreemadeSF in 2014.

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