Widespread and Increasing California Support for Climate Bills Embracing Clean Energy Economy

Change in California GDP, Population and GHG emissions since 2000, from the Air Resource Board's Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data

There has been a flood of support in recent weeks for two landmark bills that would advance California's clean energy economy and continue its leadership on curbing climate change. Not unexpectedly, the oil industry is trying to derail the legislation, but hopefully the Assembly will listen instead to the wide and varied voices backing the bills, ranging from President Obama to clergy and business leaders.

SB 350 (De León) and SB 32 (Pavley) would put into law the aspirations of Governor Jerry Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ramp up California's efforts to tackle the dangerous pollution responsible for climate change. Specifically:

  • SB 350 sets targets for California to increase its share of energy from renewable sources to 50 percent, double building energy efficiency, and cut our dependence on oil in half by 2030.
  • SB 32 sets a target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Polls show Californians strongly support these measures, which would create jobs, lower transportation costs, and reduce carbon emissions--alleviating health costs and climate change, which a recent study shows contributed to California's historic drought.

The chorus of endorsements includes everyone from business leaders to the Consumer Union and over 100 clergy. Yesterday 150 scientists and researchers with climate change expertise called on legislators to pass both bills. This follows endorsements from editorial boards such as the Sacramento Bee and LA Times.

Just last week President Obama; U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the majority of California's congressional delegation; and nearly every living former leader of the California Assembly or Senate also registered their support.

 

 

"One of America's greatest economic opportunities"

Last Tuesday dozens of leading California companies, including eBay, The Gap, Levi, and Dignity Health--one of the nation's largest health care companies--endorsed both bills. Their letters to legislators described efforts to tackle climate change as "one of America's greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century."

Small Business California also endorsed SB 350 on behalf of more than 5,000 employers and 3.6 million small businesses. Not to be outdone, the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity, which represents a statewide network of 21,000 micro businesses, joined them in support last week.

Together with hundreds of previous endorsements, these California companies recognize that our clean energy policies are creating jobs, improving productivity, and building a stronger economy.

 

SB 350 and SB 32 Will Create Jobs and Boost California's Economy

Since California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), more clean technology investment ($21 billion) has poured into California than the rest of the states combined. According to an Advanced Energy Economy Institute survey, California now boasts the nation's largest advanced energy industry, with over 430,000 advanced energy jobs; these types of jobs also grew 5 percent in 2014 - more than double the overall state job growth rate - and are projected to increase by 17 percent this year to more than 500,000 workers.

The state is also just starting to distribute the nearly $2.2 billion generated by the AB 32 cap-and-trade program to cut carbon emissions, allocating funds to hundreds of projects benefiting our communities. You can find more information on the state's climate investments here and here.

Time and time again, California has demonstrated that we can cut our emissions of pollutants while growing our state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

 

 

 

 

Passing SB 350 and SB 32--and increasing California's use of renewably energy, doubling building energy efficiency, and lowering our use of petroleum--will further advance our transition to a clean energy economy, boosting productivity and creating jobs.

In fact, a new UC Berkeley study found the SB 350 renewables target alone could create 351,000 to 426,000 new "job years" between now and 2030, and 875,000 to 1,062,000 (or up to 1 million!) when you include indirect and induced jobs.

 

Californians Strongly Support SB 350 and SB 32

It's not just businesses and policymakers who favor strengthening the state's climate policy. Californians in general really like the goals of SB 350 and SB 32, too. A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows they support both bills by a margin of more than 2 to 1. If the California Assembly follows its constituents, the legislation will pass in a landslide.

 

The survey found even higher support for the individual goals of SB 350:

  • 73 percent favor halving petroleum use
  • 82 percent support getting half our electricity from renewable energy; and
  • 70 percent favor doubling energy efficiency in buildings.

 

Even a new opposition poll with close links to the oil industry confirms similar levels of support, which they themselves called "overwhelming".

These results aren't surprising given that the PPIC survey also found huge majorities believe global warming is a serious threat to California's future and quality of life (79 percent) and that it's important for the state government to pass regulations and spend money to mitigate its effects (86 percent).

Overwhelming support from Latinos, Blacks, and Asians

The PPIC survey also found particularly strong support among people of color:

  • 80 percent of Latinos, 73 percent of blacks, and 85 percent of Asians favor SB 350's goal of halving petroleum use
  • 75 percent of Latinos, 76 percent of blacks, and 71 percent of Asians favored SB 32

These findings jive with a new poll released by Latino Decisions that found 81 percent of Latinos strongly support state clean energy standards to combat climate change--as much as favor comprehensive immigration reform.

 

David De La Peňa is now the plant operator at New Leaf Biofuels

Meanwhile, California climate change laws like AB 32 and SB 535 (De León) are bringing increasing benefits to communities of color and others heavily impacted by pollution. For example:

  • A 27-year-old single father, David De La Peña, has gone from a yard worker to plant operator at New Leaf Biofuels in San Diego, which offers great health insurance for him and his 4-year old son.
  • Jesse Magallanes bounced back from the recession by finding work as a rooftop solar installer in the Central Valley.
  • Connie Stewart loves her job building circuit boards at US Hybrid, an advanced vehicle powertrain supplier in Torrance, CA. The state's commitments to reduced emissions and clean vehicle technologies keep growing companies like this from leaving California.

The benefits also go beyond jobs:

  • Madera's Gerardo and Leticia Ramirez qualified for a low-cost 3 kilowatt-hour rooftop solar installation that could save their family up to $25,000 on electricity over their lifetime; and
  • Compton's Lee Tidwell, a retired Daycare worker, is much more prepared for the summer heat as a result of an energy efficiency upgrade she was able to receive through state programs designed to reduce carbon emissions.

(To learn more about how climate policies are benefit Californians, see UpliftCa.org or Transform's Story Bank.)

California residents, leaders, businesses, and many others are embracing the opportunities that come from a clean energy economy. If their elected officials are listening, they will pass SB 350 and SB 32.