Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Green Jobs and Mandates

During the gubernatorial election in California there was a lot of huff about Climate mandates and the loss of jobs (see AB 32). The main speculation is that if the California's Climate Bill was allowed to be enacted that a cornucopia of jobs would be lost. These jobs would be in industries most likely to be affected by laws trying to . While detractors of AB32 decried the loss of California jobs, they neigh-sayed the concept that these lost jobs would be replaced by others in the growing green job market.

green is pretty
While it is true that the full ramifications of AB 32's enactment is yet unknown, and it is not 100% provable that legislative green demands can truly kick start a market, a recent report has shown that a market has exploded in California when most other industries were flat-lining. From the L.A. Times;
Green jobs at clean-tech or alternative-energy companies are flourishing in California, with nearly a quarter of them based in Los Angeles, a study has found.

Employers offering jobs in fields such as solar power generation, electric vehicle development, environmental consultation and more added 5,000 jobs in 2008. About 174,000 Californians were working in eco-friendly fields by early 2009, compared with 111,000 in 1995, said nonprofit research group Next 10.

Next 10, an organization supporting green tech and geared towards looking at today's issues from the perspective of possible ramifications 10-years from now (otherwise known as planning ahead) has generated the third edition of a comprehensive report, which "tracks California’s history of policy and technology innovation, and resulting economic and environmental gains or losses" (from their press release). The report found many interesting things, including the surprising fact that apparently; "More businesses are starting up in California than are leaving or closing," a significant issue to consider when talking about certain possibly outmoded markets sloughing off.

The 2010 California Green Innovation Index concludes with the finding that California’s green economy is one of the few areas of the economy that is growing in the current downturn. From the Green Job Bank.

New data released today shows that California green businesses have increased 45 percent in number and 36 percent in employment from 1995 to 2008 while total jobs in California expanded only 13 percent. As the economy slowed between 2007 and 2008, total employment fell 1 percent, but green jobs continued to grow five percent.

The Sacramento Area led the pack with job growth of 87 percent from 1995 to 2008, followed by the San Diego Region (57 percent), the Bay Area (51 percent), and Orange County and Inland Empire (50 percent).

We should remember that 2008, when Green Jobs was growing while all else was sinking, that there was huge legislative pushes in the green market in California. It was the year of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger' Executive Order S-14-08, committed to getting a third of California’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It put's the state’s renewable energy requirement at 33% by 2020. To this date it is still the most aggressive renewable energy mandate in the country.

Looking ahead to 2009, found other huge pushes in California's eco-political world. 2009 had
the Joe Simitian authored, Darrel Steinburg pushed bill SB 14 that would have "...require(d) private utilities to get 33% of their energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind power by the year 2020" vetoed by the same Governor. This showed, at least to me, that the Governor was fine with giving an executive order to show an intent, but did not want to set the conditions for follow through. His veto letter is found here if you want to take a look. The triple pundit wrote a very impressive piece that year about this fight called "Can California Meet Renewable Energy Goal with a Mandate?" It appears that there was at least some small push to the job creation by even the mention of these efforts, to stay ahead of the game.

It is interesting to see various utilities are dealing with this long term executive mandate. I was unfortunately unaware of how ahead of the curve SMUD has been (way to go btw). Again patience always needs to be stressed, markets take a long time to grow, and it also takes a lot of work to raise the bar for industries to the levels we deserve. Hopefully when the next Next 10 report comes out the industry will have increased to levels unexpected and the real effects of this 33% mandate will be figured out.

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