Four years ago, California led the nation with a landmark
law aimed at reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
By doing so, the state sparked innovation and gave
a jumpstart to a thriving clean energy and technology
industry, which has created several hundred thousand
green jobs for Californians.
Those clean, green jobs are one of the few growth areas
in the state’s economy.
The number of jobs relating to renewable energy and
sustainable business practices has grown 10 times faster than the statewide average since 2005, according to the California Green Energy Index.
The number of California green businesses has increased
45 percent. Green jobs expanded by 36 percent from 1995 to 2008 while total jobs in California expanded only 13 percent.
From 2007 to 2008, when state employment fell 1 percent, green jobs continued to grow 5 percent, according to www.cleaneconomynetwork.org.
More than any other state, California is uniquely positioned
to corner the clean tech market.
California’s clean technology sector received $9 billion in venture capital investment from 2005 to 2009, including $2.1 billion in investment capital in 2009, reports http://cleantech.com. That’s five times the investment of the Golden State’s closest competitor
Massachusetts, and it represents 60 percent the total green investment in North America.
Having spent nearly three decades in the renewable
industry in California, this surge in the State’s green technology base has been exciting to watch.
However, just as this innovative approach is starting
to pay off and help put Californians back to work,
AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, is being threatened
by a handful of heavy-polluting Texas oil companies. These out-of-state polluters have spent more than $6 million to push Proposition 23, a deceptive ballot proposition that would kill the
very clean technology jobs, innovation and billions
in green investment that are helping California climb
out of recession.
The check-writers for Proposition 23 don’t care about jobs for Californians. They want voters
to believe the initiative is a “temporary” suspension of the state’s mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It isn’t. Proposition 23 would halt implementation of California’s clean and green agenda until the state’s unemployment rate reaches 5.5 percent for a full year. That has happened just three
times since 1976.
While economists are unclear when, if ever, California’s unemployment rate would reach these levels again,
the number of jobless Californians is not going to
fall without continued encouragement – and investment – in the green, sustainable future. California’s greenhouse gas reduction law helps promote.
If our clean energy and clean air law is repealed,
it would send a chilling message to investors. According
to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst, the suspension of AB
32 could, “dampen additional investments in clean energy technologies
or in so-called ‘green jobs’ by private firms, thereby resulting in less economic
activity than would otherwise be the case.”
And make no mistake – California is in serious, active competition with
many other states for these desirable clean tech jobs.
Importantly, not only are these jobs high-value, they are also highly mobile. Suspending California’s climate change legislation will substantially increase
the risk of clean tech “job flight” to other, more welcoming states. This sends precisely
the wrong message at the wrong time and will likely
cause unemployment in this state to grow higher.
A vote for Proposition 23 is a vote in favor of chaos in the marketplace, stripping
businesses of the ability to plan strategically and
ending billions of dollars in venture capital spending
on clean technology.
That’s not a smart investment.