Echoing its recent message to the U.N. climate talks in Paris – that California’s economic growth and strong climate policy are not mutually exclusive – two Senate committees met jointly on Wednesday to explore how California can continue its leadership in building a clean energy economy.
The hearing focused on the next steps for California, which will be investing cap-and-trade revenue from the Global Warming Solutions Act to fund programs to reduce climate pollution. The Brown Administration has completed a draft of its Second Investment Plan, a blueprint for spending cap-and-trade revenues beyond 2020.
Participating in the hearing were three senators who were among the California delegation to the Paris climate summit – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, Senator Fran Pavley, and Senator Bob Wieckowski.
“In Paris, the world took note that California has turned the corner on GHG emissions while also growing its economy,” said Pavley, chair of the Select Committee on Climate Change and AB 32 Implementation. “The business community was engaged, and the Paris agreement sends a strong market signal to investors and energy producers that the world is transitioning from coal and other fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
“Now that 195 nations have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, many will be looking to our state and our clean energy businesses to help them accomplish their goals,” said Wieckowski, chair of the Environmental Quality Committee. “Through the state’s climate investments we can continue to lead the way on emission reductions, energy efficiency and environmental justice issues.”
De León noted that one result of the commitments made in Paris will be to stimulate worldwide investment in clean energy.
“California has a massive head start in this race,” he said. “We will see increased demand and accelerated job growth in our home-grown green tech industries.”
California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols and Cal-EPA Secretary Matt Rodriguez presented the administration’s plans, and a variety of stakeholders shared their visions of the most productive opportunities to invest those funds to improve the health of Californians and the cause of slowing global warming.
“The success of the Paris agreement does build on California’s success in the past,” said Nichols. “Economic growth and environmental protection can grow together, and must grow together.”
Rodriguez and Nichols noted that one area of emphasis in investing California’s cap-and-trade revenues will be in the development of alternative fuels in the transportation sector, the largest source of GHG emissions in the state.
Cap-and-trade revenues are derived from auctions conducted by the Air Resources Board, in which large producers of GHG emissions purchase emission credits from a pool that declines as the cap for total climate pollutants is gradually lowered to reach 1990 levels.