AB 32: California’s businesses appreciate state’s environmental planning

San Jose Mercury News →

By Dan Adler and Mike Mielke | May 26, 2014

Business people are, by nature, careful planners. Most executives wouldn’t think of starting a venture without a business plan, detailed budgets and thoughtful growth plans.

It’s important to have the kind of information available that helps businesses decide how to invest and grow. So we were pleased to see the California Air Resources Board adopt the AB 32 Scoping Plan Update last week. It’s a road map for where California will be headed in terms of building a clean energy economy and tackling climate change.

It takes the long-term view, beyond 2020 and out to 2050, and it will help businesses figure out how to continue to innovate in and profit from California’s growing clean energy economy.

For businesses across the state, California’s pioneering policies on climate and clean energy have added up to opportunity — opportunity that didn’t happen by accident. The 2014 California Green Innovation Index, produced by the nonprofit Next 10, shows expanding consumer demand for the products and services of our state’s clean technology sector.

The index shows that jobs in California’s “core clean economy” — key clean sectors including energy efficiency, clean generation, and storage — grew by 20 percent between 2002 and 2012, compared to 2 percent growth for jobs in the state’s economy as a whole.

Over the same time period, renewable energy generation in our state surged 56 percent, and businesses across California have been growing as the sector expands.

Meanwhile, our state’s efficiency efforts are helping businesses cut costs. For industrial electricity consumers, average monthly power bills have dropped by 64 percent since 1992, according to the 2014 California Green Innovation Index.

California has grown so energy efficient that we create 1.7 times as much economic activity as the rest of the U.S. with the same amount of energy. This is a real competitive advantage. The state’s policies have been critical to the success of companies that we have worked with — companies like Bloom Energy, Clean Power Finance and SolarCity.

Now is the time for California to focus on how to build on this success. Our state should ensure that its energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives continue far into the future.

That’s why we are eagerly following the California Air Resources Board process for implementing the Revised AB 2 Scoping Plan and supporting efforts to lay the groundwork for AB 32’s next chapter. This landmark law only takes us through 2020, but we think the state should plan for what comes after that by gathering information on what scientists say is necessary, and what economists and technological experts think is feasible.

This is the kind of responsible planning that has worked so well for California so far. Setting ambitious but achievable binding pollution targets beyond 2020 will give businesses market certainty and help them identify where opportunities are likely to arise.

When it comes to climate and energy policy, businesses appreciate our state’s forward-looking stance. In fact, we count on it. And we will rely on the latest AB 32 Scoping Plan — and on further developments in Sacramento — when drawing up our own plans for a more prosperous, more sustainable future.

Dan Adler is managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund. Mike Mielke is vice president of environmental programs and policy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. They wrote this for this newspaper.