Tuesday, June 27, 2017

California is Reaping Economic Benefits from Climate Action

This is the second installment in a series of posts on California's climate leadership. These posts address a wide range of related topics including renewable energy, electric vehicles, and cap-and-trade.

California's efforts to combat climate change serve both human and planetary health but such action also pays lucrative economic dividends.  California is a working example of a climate focused economy that crushes Trump's assertion that the Paris Agreement is bad for the economy. California's prodigious economic growth is directly related to the state's climate and environmental policies. It is important to note that these policies are even more stringent than those called for in the Paris deal.  As explained by California Governor Jerry Brown, "Trump is wrong when he says Paris is bad for jobs. It’s good for jobs. The jobs of the future."

Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from Mexico who advises nations on climate change policy said, "California demonstrates to the world that you can have a strong climate policy without hurting your economy."

While Trump has opted to walk-away from the most lucrative opportunity in history, California is benefiting from the $19 trillion opportunity associated with the green economy. Led by California's clean energy companies the state's economy is outperforming other states.

As reported by the Washinton Post, California has the fastest growing economy in the country. In 2016 California recorded an impressive annual revenue growth of 26 percent. That is 40 percent better than the rest of the nation.

As the largest state in the union and one of the Earth's biggest economies California carries some clout. California has 39 million people, and its annual economic output of $2.4 trillion make it the fifth-largest economy in the world rivaling that of the UK. When it comes to the stock and bond markets, California has outperformed the rest of the US in recent years and this momentum has accelerated since Trump was elected president.

Contrary to the ill-informed, political motivated narratives of the Trump administration, Bloomberg states, "investors see security in the state with more protections for immigrants and more regulations...No state or country has created as many laws discouraging fossil fuels and carbon while promoting clean energy. That convergence of policy and voter preference is paying off in the stock market."

Many of the state's largest corporations support climate action. Last year, 14 major brands including Levi’s, Nike, Seventh Generation and VF Corporation sent a letter supporting the climate regulations contained in SB 1383. This includes short-lived climate pollutants, methane emissions, dairy, livestock, organic waste and landfills.

"Our support is firmly grounded in economic reality," the letter reads. "We know tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century and we applaud California’s leaders for taking steps to help the state seize that opportunity." Sustainable business group Ceres’ BICEP coalition — this stands for Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy — coordinated the SB 1383 letter.

Ceres senior manager of California policy and partnerships Kirsten James told Environmental Leader companies will continue to support the low-carbon economy because it’s a smart business decision.
"California has been a leader on climate policy for more than a decade, and at the same time, we are the fifth biggest economy in the world," James said. "More and more the business community recognizes that tackling climate change is an economic opportunity."

California realizes what the Trump administration fails to understand. Sustainability is a tremendous economic opportunity. While he claims to be their champion, many corporations see Trump is a serious risk-factor.

The economics are clear. The price tag associated with runaway climate change is catastrophic. A cost-benefit analysis reveals the overwhelming logic of preemptive action. We simply cannot afford inaction.

Governor Brown is filling the vacuum left by the the Trump administration's ineptitude and the Golden State is reaping the benefits. Unlike Trump's efforts which benefit the one percent, California's efforts directly benefit its citizens. The state's per capita income increased 9.5 percent since 2015, more than any other state. California has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Also unlike Trump and his administration, the Brown administration enjoys popular support.

Next: California is the Deal-Making Global Climate Leader

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