California Dream 2.0

Californians see global warming as a threat, and support action to abate

Decision makers at every level across California should take notice of today’s affirmation that the public supports California’s efforts to respond to the causes of climate change.

The results from the newly released Public Policy Institute of California’s annual survey of Californian attitudes towards the environment speak loud and clear: The majority of Californians see global warming as a serious threat to the state’s economy and their future quality of life and they continue to support measures to reduce green house gas emissions through the state’s cap and trade law.

Since the poll also revealed that many Californians think not enough is being done on this issue – particularly at the federal level – those in a position to make policy changes should take this poll as a call to action to address what the public sees as a major threat to their lives and livelihoods.

That’s not to say that significant efforts aren’t already underway. In addition to California’s visionary cap and trade law about to go into effect at the beginning of next year, the state just released its third assessment of our climate change vulnerabilities – a reminder that in addition to reducing our emissions we must also prepare for the climate impacts that scientists tell us are still to come.

Highlights from the PPIC poll include:

  • A majority of likely voters say global warming is a serious threat (40% very serious, 26% somewhat serious) to the economy and quality of life in California’s future.
  • 62% of likely voters support the state’s cap and trade law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Four in ten Californians say efforts to reduce greenhouse gases will result in more jobs.
  • 64% of likely voters say steps need to be taken right away to counter the effects of global warming.
  • 53% of likely voters say the federal government is not doing enough to address global warming.
  • 42% of likely voters say state and local governments are not doing enough to address global warming.
  • The majority (78% of Californians and 73% of likely voters) is in favor of increasing federal funding to develop wind, solar, and hydrogen technology. That support is reflected across political party lines.

So the science is in, and so is public opinion. Our leaders have every incentive they need to take sustained and decisive action to kick start economic growth by moving forward with California’s groundbreaking climate law.

Posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32 / Comments are closed

Governor Brown and the U.S. Navy are making maneuvers with California clean energy companies to showcase real progress

This week, the U.S. Navy and the Office of California Governor Jerry Brown are teaming up to put on display the blossoming relationship between California’s clean energy industry and the U.S. Navy, part of the nation’s biggest energy consumer, the U.S. Department of Defense.

The fact that the U.S. Navy and the clean energy companies featured in the Clean Energy Showcase event – Borrego Solar, Solar City and Biodico, to name just a few – are nurturing this partnership is enormously telling of the direction that the mainstream of our country is moving in. And by providing a platform for this event, Governor Brown is shining a much-needed light on the numerous advantages to this significant public-private sector alliance, and continuing to bolster California’s impressive clean energy credentials.

It’s clear that Brown is applying the power of his office to set ambitious clean energy goals for the state – he already set a goal that the state will have 20,000 megawatts of new renewable energy on the grid by 2020. This newer role however is a clear signal that he is also committed to fostering clean energy links that will provide benefits throughout the state’s economy. In his role as convener, Brown sends a powerful message to all sectors – that they too can contribute to and benefit from California’s surge towards a clean energy future.

For its part, the Navy’s energy management strategies are an entirely pragmatic response to climate change, the complex security landscape and the realities of a squeezed budget. These three challenges represent three corners of a triangle, each inextricably linked to the other. As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said back in May, “As someone who now faces a budget shortfall exceeding $3 billion because of higher-than-expected fuel costs, I have a deep interest in more sustainable and efficient energy options.”

Not only is the U.S. military out ahead on this issue, but so is California. Ready to implement America’s first carbon emissions trading market, California has already become a magnet for clean energy investment. And, as described in our new report Invest to Grow, the investment opportunities created by this law will provide numerous benefits to the existing landscape of companies throughout the state that are already providing clean energy and energy efficiency products and services.

Climate change, national energy security and constrained budgets are weighty issues for not just the military, but for the state of California. This week’s Clean Energy Showcase provides an opportunity for our country’s most innovative, practical and pragmatic forces – business and military – to publicly shine a light on the clear path forward. Under the wing of Governor Brown’s administration, this partnership can help further California progress towards a more responsible, and secure, clean economy.

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Politics / Comments are closed

Cap-and-Trade Club Grows with Addition of Quebec

Despite the Durban climate talks ending with little progress beyond launching negotiations of a new agreement by 2015 that encompasses all the major emitters, momentum for carbon markets continues to grow from the ground up. Case in point: Canada’s second largest province, Quebec. 

Just three days after Canada announced it was dropping out of the Kyoto Protocol, Quebec announced it was going forward with a cap-and-trade program tied to California’s.

It was little surprise that Canada would renege on its commitment to cut climate pollution because it had done little to meet the treaty’s targets. And while its move was harshly condemned at home and abroad as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’, the news was offset by progress that’s being made at the sub-national level.

Quebec and California are part of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a partnership of states and provinces pledging to fight climate change by putting a price on pollution. Other Canadian provinces in the WCI, including British Columbia and Ontario, are actively developing carbon market programs.

Quebec is the latest entity to join climate’s ‘cap-and-trade club’ that counts the European Union, Japan, New Zealand, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Switzerland as members. China and South Korea are among the countries that are exploring starting cap-and-trade programs. The United States used cap-and-trade to notable success in the ‘90s to cut acid rain faster and at dramatically lower costs than predicted by industry.

With extreme weather events linked to climate change on the rise, along with public support for solutions, Canada is joining the United States in refusing to deal with the most pressing environmental issue of our lifetime.  Fortunately, Quebec and California are leading the charge to cap and reduce pollution, an approach proven to deliver great economic and public health benefits. 

A recent study on the economic benefits of RGGI in the first three years found that the region’s economy grew by $1.6 billion, produced $1.3 billion in energy savings to consumers and created more than 16,000 jobs. 

Sub-national governments have become the hotbeds of leadership and progress on climate change, proving that taking action grows their economies while protecting the environment. We must not let the hope of a perfect (global agreement) become the enemy of the urgent (taking concrete action to fight climate change).

Posted in Cap and trade, Climate, Linkage / Comments are closed

While Countries are Talking, California is Doing

Climate change is all over the news these days and while most of the news isn’t good, there are a few signs of progress.

First the bad news: a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that we have five years to act if we want to avoid the most extreme consequences of climate change.  A subsequent report issued by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in mid November confirms that the extreme weather events over the last few years are a direct result of climate change. Unfortunately, expectations are low that there will be much agreement at the international climate talks taking place in Durban this week.

Now the good news: California, the world’s 8th largest economy and 12th largest climate polluter, is leading the way on fighting climate change and the state’s economy is benefitting from an early-mover advantage.

The state just unanimously adopted a cap-and-trade program as part of its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the law requiring California to cut climate pollution to 1990 levels by 2020.  To meet the 2020 level, California is implementing nearly 70 policies, including cap-and-trade.

The recently adopted cap-and-trade program will cover 360 of California’s largest polluters and, by 2015, over 85% of all climate pollution in the state, accelerating new innovations in clean energy, energy efficiency and fuels and stimulating next-generation solutions we have yet to even imagine.

According to a number of reports, the latest of which was published in Science Magazine, these reductions are critical if we hope to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. That report lays out what it would take to meet California’s long-term vision of slashing climate pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

More good news: California can achieve early AB 32 targets through energy efficiency and other existing measures alone. Deeper cuts require significant innovation and deployment of new technologies, which is, of course, why California’s cap-and-trade system is so critical. It will put a price on pollution for the first time, motivating investors, innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver solutions that will get us where we need to be at the lowest cost possible.

The Science report should strengthen our resolve and be a wake-up call about the scale of our task.  The U.S. and other countries that are fighting about whether dramatic action is necessary will be big financial losers, and the entire world and everyone on it will be at greater risk.

As our international climate director stated on Monday in Durban, “Given the current global political and economic situations, renewal of the Kyoto Protocol is highly unlikely. But that is no excuse for the world to sit back and do nothing. We need to build on the efforts of individual countries and regions so that every nation does their part to reduce the emissions that are harming our way of life.” 

California’s examples cannot be just the CFL light bulb burning at the end of the tunnel. They must be the locomotive of a bullet train into the clean energy future.


Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32 / Comments are closed

California Shapes National Action on Clean Car Standards

Fortunately, when it comes to climate and energy policies, what happens in California doesn’t stay in California.

Yesterday the Obama Administration announced a second phase of national greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards—covering passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks for model years 2017-2025—that California played a key role developing. California also announced new Advanced Clean Cars package to deliver cleaner air, slash greenhouse gases, rapidly increase numbers of zero-emissions vehicles. 

Yesterday’s announcements represent a key step forward in addressing our fundamental economic, energy and environmental priorities.

The federal standards are expected to result in at least $1.7 trillion in savings, reductions of an estimated 2.2 million barrels of oil a day by 2025 and 6 billion metric tons of climate pollution. California’s package—covering cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2012-2025 will likely result in having 1.4 million zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the road in 2025 with savings of $5 billion that same year for consumers and businesses.

Consumers and businesses are rightly concerned about our dependence on imported oil and rising energy prices. Setting new greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards will address those concerns by saving them money and creating a healthier environment. 

The new auto standards are widely supported by a diverse coalition of automakers and the United Auto Workers, as well as businesses, consumers, veterans, health and environmental organizations. These standards will help create jobs, grow our economy, break our addiction to oil, save consumers trillions of dollars at the pump and dramatically cut climate change pollution.

 This is great news for Americans in every state and further proof that California serves as the model for climate change policy.

Posted in Climate / Comments are closed

Cap-and-economic-growth, indeed

That is an editorial headline in today’s Baltimore Sun about a new study demonstrating the economic benefits of the Region Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade program.

The money quote:

“There are any number of lessons that can be drawn from this. But perhaps the most important is that as a market-based solution, a cap-and-trade program, can work well and deliver real economic value to participating states.’

The New York Times covered the findings under the headline, ‘Carbon Trading Initiative a Success, Study Says’ and illustrates how the program has saved money for consumers, stimulated job growth and kept money in local economies in the six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

The bottom line: the investment of revenue from RGGI allowance auctions have yielded $1.6 billion in net economic value to the regional economy and generated 16,000 jobs.

What’s more, every household and business in the region can expect to benefit from the RGGI system: The study estimates that the average home will save $25, and that owners of commercial and industrial buildings that use a lot more energy per meter than homeowners will save $181 and $2,493, respectively.

Other key findings:

  • Customers are expected to save nearly $1.1 billion on electricity bills, and an additional $174 million on natural gas and heating oil bills, for a total of $1.3 billion in savings over the next decade through installation of energy efficiency measures using funding from RGGI auction proceeds to date
  • Reduced demand for fossil fuels keeps more than $765 million in the local economy

Power plant owners experience $1.6 billion in lower revenue over time, although they overall had higher revenues than costs as a result of RGGI during the 2009-2011 period.

The new study offers a taste of what California, which just unanimously approved its cap-and-trade program that goes into effect in 2013, can look forward to.  The Golden State has already experienced a dramatic increase in clean technology investments and jobs in the five years since our climate change law passed.


Posted in Cap and trade, Climate, Jobs / Comments are closed