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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Can Gavin Newsom Be a Clean Economy Governor?

California proves that smart clean energy and climate policies go hand in hand with economic growth. Since our state passed its landmark climate action bill in 2006, our economy has grown at twice the national rate, even as greenhouse gas emissions came down. Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom has a tremendous opportunity for national leadership by promoting advanced clean energy policies that drive economic growth.

California reached its goal of reducing carbon emissions to below 1990 levels four years early while growing our economy into the fifth largest in the world. This was no accident. It was the result of policies designed to spur innovation while cutting emissions, driven by leaders in Sacramento from both parties who understand that bold action on clean energy and climate change is essential not just for the environment but also for the economy.

That’s why the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) joined with business associations across the state to support the #CleanEconomyGovernor campaign this election season, calling on the candidates to commit to a clean energy future. Newsom has a long record of clean energy leadership. As mayor of San Francisco, he pushed the city to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. Now, California business leaders are counting on Newsom to champion a rapid statewide transition to a 100 percent clean economy.

Numerous state policies are already driving economic growth and the transition to a clean economy. Thanks to California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, our solar energy sector has grown rapidly. The Public Utilities Commission’s energy storage mandate has created new companies and helped existing firms grow. LACI recently established a public-private partnership, uniting state regulators, local government officials, utilities and industry leaders in accelerating regional transportation electrification and statewide zero emissions goods movement. This type of collaboration can move us further, faster toward California’s climate goals by creating a landscape in which cleantech entrepreneurs can thrive. The Zero Emission Vehicle mandate has attracted every automaker to create and sell electric vehicles in California. Policies like these set the stage for cleantech companies to thrive.

Already, California’s clean energy and climate policies have driven more than $49 billion in public and private clean energy investment. More than 542,000 Californians work in clean energy and energy efficiency. California Climate Investments – which steer proceeds from California’s cap-and-trade auctions to programs that curb emissions and advance clean energy – support 8.8 jobs for every $1 million the state invests, compared to 1.6 jobs for every $1 million invested in the oil and gas industries, according to research from UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation.

LACI has supported more than 70 cleantech startups to create more than $350 million in economic value and create 1,700 jobs since 2011. LACI portfolio companies are at the forefront of whole new industries, like electric aviation and micro-mobility. Ampaire Inc. will have an all-battery-powered short-flight plane in the air within one year. Amply Power is accelerating transportation electrification by giving fleet managers certainty on electric fueling costs. Xtelligent is defining how traffic signals and infrastructure will work with connected and automated vehicles. For these companies and other innovative companies across California, clean energy and climate policies send strong, clear market signals. They give investors and businesses the confidence to commit to clean technology innovation both for economic and environmental reasons.

More work remains to build a clean economy in California and achieve our policy mandates. Success requires policies that accelerate the transition to clean energy while encouraging innovation that propels economic growth. To continue California’s leadership and make this visionary clean and prosperous economy a reality, California needs Newsom to serve as a true clean economy governor.

Matt Petersen is president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.

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