Source: Daily Climate
As President Trump and his Cabinet continue to ignore the economic benefits of clean energy and economic costs of climate change, it’s clear now that it’s up to states, cities and businesses to lead where our federal government refuses to do so.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement recently that he will convene a climate summit for world leaders in San Francisco is indicative of how America can still work with the rest of the world to make progress on climate change even as the Trump administration pulls us out of the historic Paris climate agreement and rolls backs common-sense limits on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, members of the California Legislature need to do their part.
On Monday, state lawmakers are expected to vote on extending what has now become our country’s most important climate policy: California’s cap-and-trade program.
The legislation sponsored by Sen. Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and backed by Gov. Brown is good for our environment. It will extend California’s landmark carbon pollution program through 2030, and also addresses critical local air quality issues throughout the state.
But passing this legislation would also be good for our economy, providing much-needed certainty for California’s clean energy businesses, investors and the nearly half-million Californians they employ.
California knows better than any place that taking action on climate change is good for our economy and our environment.
Nearly 520,000 Californians now work each and every day in clean energy — installing solar panels and wind turbines; making our offices, homes and schools smarter through better lighting and energy efficiency; building electric vehicles that reduce pollution and our dependence on foreign oil.
According to a recent analysis by my group, E2, California’s climate policies have attracted more than $45 billion in investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other projects. About $1.2 billion in funding generated by California’s cap-and-trade program has been put to work in communities across the state, much of it to low-income areas.
State lawmakers would be wise to keep those clean energy jobs and local investments in mind as they consider cap-and-trade legislation. The world is watching.
With California’s leadership, other states, cities and businesses are stepping up to fill the void in leadership in Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, Gov. Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced “America’s Pledge,” a new effort to compile and quantify the actions of states, cities and businesses that have pledged to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Already, a dozen states and Puerto Rico, along with more than 200 cities, have pledged to live up to the Paris Agreement, defying President Trump’s decision to pull out of the landmark global agreement that every other country except for Syria and Nicaragua signed. Thousands of businesses also have joined mayors, governors and university leaders in pledging to continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.
Along with California, nearly 30 other states now have policies to get a portion of their energy from renewables, which is creating hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs and protecting our air and water along the way. Hundreds of companies, from Apple and Facebook to Steelcase and VF Corp. are implementing plans to reduce their carbon footprint, in part by getting most or all of their energy from renewable sources.
These companies and local governments are taking steps to shift to clean energy and do something about climate change because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes business sense. Wind and solar energy is now cheaper than coal and gas in some markets. Reducing energy waste through efficiency also means reducing energy bills. And we all need clean air and water.
Outside of Washington D.C., the rest of the world knows this. That’s why Gov. Brown’s announcement of an international climate summit in California in 2018 is important.
To be sure, meaningful federal action is sorely needed to make a major difference on climate change and clean energy. Doing so could drive investments and clean energy jobs like those in California in every other state in America.
Yet in the absence of leadership in Washington, states, cities and businesses can continue to fill the void, as Gov. Brown is proving and as California legislature can continue to prove by extending and improving cap-and-trade.
Keefe, a Carlsbad resident, is executive director of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) a national, nonpartisan group of business owners, investors and others who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment.