California: Greenhouse gas law aides state’s clean tech growth

California voters did the right thing last November when they rejected an effort to kill AB 32, our state’s landmark clean energy law. But now there are more legal challenges – from people who agree with the goals of AB 32 but don’t like the details. They are still in court demanding that the state halt implementation of the emissions trading component of the law.

As business leaders, we say enough is enough. The reason is simple: prompt and full implementation of AB 32 is key to our state’s economic recovery, and to building a more profitable and more sustainable future for California.

We already are seeing hints of what AB 32 could mean for our economy. Since the bill became law, investment in California’s clean technology sector has skyrocketed, with more than $11 billion in venture capital flowing into the state. The National Venture Capital Association estimates that each $100 million in venture capital funding will help create 2,700 jobs directly and support other jobs indirectly, while generating $500 million in annual revenue over two decades. It is clear that clean energy policies are propelling the state down a positive economic path.
Clean technology has been one of the few bright spots in California’s economy, with jobs in this sector growing at three times the rate of the rest of the job market. Clean tech businesses locate and expand here because California has provided clear signals that clean energy is a priority. That is why we have been the top state for attracting clean tech investment and venture capital, and why we have seen solid growth in business development and jobs.
As companies that are rapidly growing here in California, we understand the promise of clean energy policies first hand. AB 32, at its core, is an innovation engine. The law is propelling our businesses forward, helping bring research and manufacturing back to California, creating certainty and opportunity, and transforming the clean tech marketplace.
Based on our experience, we believe nothing will hurt California’s emerging clean energy sector more than continued regulatory uncertainty. Delay threatens business growth and job creation, and it undermines the very market signal that has attracted so many clean tech manufacturers, investors and businesses to the state. If we cut and run, those businesses and investors will go elsewhere.
The latest bump in the road is a lawsuit that is creating obstacles for the California Air Resources Board in its full implementation of AB 32. If California falters, we are worried about what is going to happen to the promising regional carbon market – the Western Climate Initiative – whose success depends on California’s participation.
AB 32 is not just one policy. It’s a portfolio of strategies to transition California to a clean energy economy, including renewable energy standards, energy efficiency targets, an emissions trading program (a.k.a. cap and trade), and dozens of other smart, cost-saving measures.
As business people, we understand that market-based solutions are the most efficient way to send clear signals to companies and investors. They create a financial incentive for reducing emissions and a profit motive for developing innovative technologies that will lower operating costs.
So we say enough of the uncertainty and regulatory limbo. We need to push ahead and fully implement AB 32. California can then continue to lead the nation in cutting edge policies, as it has so many times before, and the rest of the country will follow. And we will all reap the benefits of our pioneering efforts while sending a message to the country and the world: California will not be deterred from its commitment to clean energy.
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