EDF’s Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technology and ideas.
Emily Kirsch calls herself a “solar-lifer.” Kirsch came onto the solar scene by way of former Obama advisor Van Jones’ green jobs campaign in Oakland. Now, as the co-founder and CEO of Oakland-based SfunCube—the world’s only solar-exclusive start-up business accelerator—Kirsch is growing California’s clean economy in an entirely new way and she knows the future of solar is bright.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Oakland, SfunCube—Solar for Universal Need—is supporting a growing “solar ecosystem” of the most promising solar startups that are making the San Francisco Bay Area the nation’s epicenter for solar innovation and entrepreneurship. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Emily Kirsch and some of the solar pioneers who are working at SfunCube to make universal access to solar a reality in California, throughout the US, and around the world.
In California today, there are over 1,889 solar companies that are part of the solar supply chain, creating more than 50,000 jobs—roughly a third of all the solar jobs in the country—and that is no coincidence. Read More
A tool only has value if it’s used. For example, you could be the sort of person who’s set a goal of wanting to exercise more. If someone gives you a nifty little Fitbit to help you do that, and you never open the box, how useful, then, is this little device? The same is true about smart energy management solutions: good tools exist, but whether it’s calories or energy use that you want to cut, at some point those helpful devices need to be unpacked. The same is true for demand response, an energy conservation tool that pays people to save energy when the electric grid is stressed.
California's electricity industry stands at a crossroads. The state got an early start on creating laws and policies to cut carbon pollution, and is now reaping the benefits of these policies through reduced emissions and healthy economic growth. That said, California can’t cut carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels without having alternatives to choose from — some focusing on promoting renewable energy, others on smarter energy management tools. Demand response is one of these tools, and a critical one. This highly-flexible, cost-effective resource should play a key role in California’s clean energy future, but several barriers stand in the way of unleashing its full potential.
It’s hard to think of California as anything but forward-thinking, but, right now, the state’s demand response programs are lagging behind those in other states and regions of the country like the Mid-Atlantic. There is good news, however, because demand response is an evolving resource. And, with advances in smart grid technologies, demand response has the potential to improve our energy mix in California. In EDF’s new report, Putting Demand Response to Work for California, we offer recommendations on how to unlock demand response as an important part of the overall strategy for California’s bright energy future.
Make no mistake, California is a leader when it comes to improving air quality and deploying unprecedented amounts of cleaner, low-carbon fuels. However, despite years of efforts to cut vehicle emissions and reduce fossil fuel consumption, California remains in the top spot nationally for gasoline use, and is home to the top five most polluted cities in the country.
In addition, as the state and surrounding region continues to cut petroleum usage and clean up the environment – yielding major climate benefits – economic growth in emerging markets across the world means that our efforts are being undercut by increases in use elsewhere.
For California to truly deliver in in the fight against climate change, we must not only cut fossil fuel use and deploy cleaner alternatives at home, but also create solutions that deliver benefits abroad. In other words, we should aim to export our best transportation policies abroad – the ones that have helped California reduce fossil fuel use yet still help foster economic opportunities and growth.
A range of current policies are helping drive new technologies that yield low carbon vehicles and fuels
Over the past 15 years, California has given birth to the some of the most ambitious and successful climate change related transportation policies imaginable. For example, in 2002 the legislature adopted the Pavley Clean Cars law (AB 1493) which set greenhouse gas standards for automobiles. This law eventually led to new national vehicle efficiency standards and the production of a new wave of more efficient and cleaner cars and trucks.
Would you believe there's a state that cut pollution and cleaned up its air, while creating jobs and sustaining economic growth?
And where economic incentives, rather than costly regulations, are stimulating innovation and investment?
California passed the earliest, most comprehensive law to set a cap on carbon pollution, along with numerous other complementary policies to help the state transition to a low-carbon, clean-energy economy.
The results are now coming in and the present – and future – looks bright.
Two years after it was fully implemented, California's cap-and-trade program is thriving, a new report [PDF] from Environmental Defense Fund shows.
The program is now ramping up as the state economy is growing, paving the way for California to pass even stronger climate policies. Perhaps most important, it's laying the groundwork for other states and nations to move forward with similar steps.
The four top findings from our report: Read More
These days, everyone seems to have an opinion about everything. The ubiquity of social media channels has saturated public discourse with so many viewpoints that it can be nearly impossible to distinguish facts from fiction. But facts still matter. Even though an argument about the quality of a neighborhood restaurant or the accomplishments of your local elected official might be inherently subjective, there’s no question that strong, empirical evidence gives you the best shot at coming out on top. What’s more, the greater the consequences of the issue being debated, the higher the stakes are when it comes to analyzing and acting on real-world evidence.
On one particularly timely and potentially far-reaching issue—solutions to climate change—evidence is mounting and becoming impossible to ignore: cap and trade is not just an idea you learn in an economics lecture, it is a policy solution being deployed successfully in California, the world’s eighth largest economy. According to EDF’s comprehensive analysis released today, California’s cap-and-trade program is working after two full years of implementation. Not only is the program incentivizing energy efficiency improvements, it is paving the way for the state to pass even stronger climate policies, and is helping other states and nations move forward with similar steps. Here are some of the top conclusions EDF puts forward in the report, based on our analysis of the evidence:
These days there seems to be steady stream of stories coming from Washington D.C. that are of interest to California, from national standards on trucks to new regulations covering existing emissions sources under the Clean Power Plan. However, the story treadmill runs in reverse too, as evidenced by the attention being paid to California’s world-leading climate program, AB 32, which is being fully implemented during a time of strong economic recovery in the Golden State.
In February 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Climate Registry, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, and the Association of Climate Change Officers will host the Climate Leadership Conference in Washington D.C and California’s AB 32 story and success will be on full display.
At the CLC in Pentagon City, taking place February 23rd through 25th, hundreds of policy makers, businesses, and advocates from across the nation will learn about and discuss efforts that are leading the way on climate solutions. As part of that discussion, the California story – from cap and trade to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard – will be showcased and broadcast in a multi-hour seminar, connecting state-level solutions to national decision makers.