The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report makes it clear that the only way to prevent the worst effects of climate change is to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the pace and scale necessary to hold global warming to 1.5° C.
That makes California’s climate leadership more important than ever. In September, the legislature passed a first-in-the-nation bill committing the state to emissions-free electricity by 2045, and other states and nations will be watching our progress.
We applauded Gov. Jerry Brown for signing the bill into law on the same day he issued an executive order setting a goal for a carbon-neutral economy, also by 2045. Now California must ensure that these visionary plans are followed by bold action. This issue is especially timely as the state prepares to elect a new governor.
Business leaders understand that a warming world is bad not only for the planet and the people who live on it, but also for the economy. California’s recent past serves as a preview of climate change’s coming attractions, including record heat, unprecedented wildfires, severe drought, rising sea levels, the spread of disease, and air that’s harder to breathe. As global average temperatures continue to rise, scientists tell us, these trends will only get worse.
That’s why we and other business leaders believe that California’s next governor must be fully committed to meeting the state’s clean energy and climate commitments — and building on them. A more stable climate poses fewer risks to people and the planet, enabling both a stronger economy and healthier environment.
California’s business community also sees the state’s pioneering clean energy and climate policies as vital economic and employment drivers that have attracted more than $49 billion in public and private clean energy investment. More than 542,000 Californians already work in clean energy and energy efficiency across the state, and the sector expects job growth of 10 percent in 2018.
This year, California overtook the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world. The state also announced it had hit its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels four years ahead of schedule. Proof that a stronger economy and a healthier environment go hand in hand.
At a time when many federal environmental protections are being rolled back, California’s strong and consistent climate and energy policies matter. Clean energy, emission-free transportation, and energy efficient buildings are all important elements in forging a strong and growing clean economy.
Business leaders understand that they must be a part of the solution. When the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres looked at what more than 600 of the largest publicly traded companies were doing to address climate change, it found 64 percent have commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Clif Bar does its part by using 100 percent renewable energy, prioritizing sustainably sourced, organic ingredients, diverting more than 80 percent of our waste away from landfills and committing to transition all of our transportation fleet to electric vehicles.
While businesses have a crucial role to play, leadership in the halls of our state government remains essential. When Sacramento sets firm targets for emissions, clean energy, and efficiency standards, it gives businesses the market certainty they need to invest confidently in climate solutions.
California’s next governor must make sure the state continues to blaze a trail toward a growing economy powered by clean energythat doesn’t overheat the planet — and a more sustainable and more profitable future for all.
Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson are co-CEOs of ClifBar & Company, a family- and employee-owned food company, maker of organic energy bars and snacks. ClifBar is a longtime member of Ceres Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) Network. Ceres is a member of the #CleanEconomyGovernor campaign coalition.
With Gov. Brown Leaving, California Businesses Need Another Clean Energy Champion in Sacramento, by Kit Crawford, Gary Erickson, & Mindy Lubber, Forbes, November 5, 2018.