At the Projections 2011 conference on September 16 at Santa Clara University (Santa Clara, California) a panel discussed the environmental outlook for California.
“Mobilizing for Reform and Recovery” – Projections 2011 is an annual event in Silicon Valley that is organized by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
While California’s Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) – The Global Warming Act – has been fueling the green economy and job creation by focusing on clean-tech and energy efficiency, voters in November will be faced with proposition 23. Set forth by two Texas oil companies, Vallero and Tesoro, who are threatened by the emerging renewable energy space, Prop. 23 attempts to undo AB 32.
How would Prop. 23 affect Californians?
On September 9, UC-Berkeley Law School published a new analysis of Prop. 23. The report, titled “California at the Crossroads: Proposition 23, AB 32, and Climate Change” details impacts of the ballot. Prop. 23 raises legal, policy, and environmental concerns. It is projected to affect electricity pricing – 33% more expensive by 2020, it will cost California $ 80 billion in gross domestic product, would cut existing jobs and revenues, and also threaten job creation. (Berkeley law Study – press release and report).
In the Projections 2011 Environmental Panel, San Francisco Mayor and Lt. Governor candidate Gavin Newsom talked about Prop. 23 ramifications. The spirit that AB 32 set forth will be stopped by Prop. 23, he said. Prop. 23 won’t only put an end to investment in green technology; it will also cut down jobs.
Mayor Newsom talked how AB 32 has spurred clean tech investment and has been attracting innovators to California. Also manufacturing is being built in our home state. A few examples include SunTech, a solar film manufacturer for residential, commercial and automotive applications, has been in CA since its inception over 25 years ago. SunPower plans to open a new plant in Milpitas soon. Growing from 35 employees in 2003 to 6,000 today, the company created many job opportunities in California through its installers, dealers, and other functions.
Passing Prop. 23 has also health implications: 95% of Californians live in areas with air pollution. Unhealthy air contributes to many respiratory illnesses, heart conditions and deaths in the state every year. In 2006, AB 32 set the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law and directed the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop and implement programs to reduce carbon footprint throughout the state. Opposition to AB 32 will halt these efforts and support pollution.
Other panelists included Andy Bell, CEO of Webcor, Raquel Gonzalez of Bank of America and Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance. The panelists talked about the tremendous amount of investment in green tech today in California. Energy efficiency has propelled green building regulation. For example, San Francisco is leading with green building regulations and in pursuing LEED certification. The Academy of Sciences in the city is a Platinum LEED building.
The panelists agreed that academia, business, policy makers, non-profits, and NGO’s need to collaborate efforts in finding solutions for our environmental challenges. Every sector presents opportunities for growth in the green economy. The current green thinking includes entire supply-chains, materials, transportation, renewables, natural resources usage, and people. Mass adoption will follow when individuals see the economical value.
Projections 2011 conveyed an encouraging message to Californians: although the next 1-2 years will be challenging, nevertheless we will see a mild economic growth; beyond that – the outlook is positive.
- Will investing in the green economy transform America?
- Government policy can promote cleantech entrepreneurship
- Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)
- Silicon Valley Community Foundation
- Mobilizing for Reform and Recovery – Projections 2011 report
Silicon Valley Leadership Group supports implementation of AB 32 – The California Global Warming Solutions Act – NO on PROP 23