Businesses Push California Toward Another #CleanEconomyGovernor

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What qualities should a governor possess? Transparency. Responsiveness. Consensus-building. Accountability. Efficiency. Effectiveness. Fiscal acuity. In California, those commonly accepted attributes of good governance are desired, but the business community there is pushing for the next governor to possess a strength that transcends them all — the strategic vision to grow California’s clean energy economy. A campaign called #CleanEconomyGovernor calls upon California gubernatorial candidates to commit their platforms to build upon Governor Jerry Brown’s climate legacy.


California business groups say it is critically important that the next governor endorse California’s ambitious new emissions-free electricity law and Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order that sets the goal of a carbon-neutral state economy by 2045. Gubernatorial candidates John Cox and Gavin Newsom have substantial business experience and the acumen to speak, act, and lead on clean energy and climate change policies that drive California’s economy forward, according to the #CleanEconomyGovernor business group. The #CleanEconomyGovernor initiative foregrounds the importance of clean energy to California’s economic future and health.

Numerous stats about California’s current state of clean energy support the #CleanEconomyGovernor goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045.

  • California has more than 542,000 people working in advanced energy across the state. (Source: Advanced Energy Economy)
  • California’s advanced energy industry projects job growth of 10% this year. (Source: AEE)
  • California Climate Investments — proceeds from California’s iconic cap-and-trade auctions allocated 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. (Source: Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA)
  • California’s climate and clean energy policies have driven more than $49 billion in public and private clean energy investments into California’s economy. (Source: Environmental Entrepreneurs)
  • This year, California overtook the UK to become the 5th-largest economy in the world and also announced it had hit its goal of reducing emissions below 1990 levels 4 years ahead of schedule.

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The launch of the #CleanEconomyGovernor campaign on September 25, 2018 kick-started a drive for bold economic leadership on clean energy and climate change. The effort’s activities include making the business case for continued climate and clean energy action in the news media, spreading the word on social media, and engaging with gubernatorial candidates.

The #CleanEconomyGovernor coalition of business organizations represents and collaborates with businesses that collectively generate more than $1 trillion in annual global economic activity. It is pressing gubernatorial candidates to acknowledge how California’s clean energy and climate policies are vital economic and employment drivers. A rapid transition to 100% clean energy, they say, is essential for the state’s economic success.


CleanTechnica Exclusive

If they can’t do it in California, it can’t be done anywhere.

Taylor Caldwell, novelist

The #CleanEconomyGovernor staff offered the following comment specifically for CleanTechnica:

California’s clean energy and climate efforts stand out because they have been comprehensive and consistent. Long-term goals cover 100% clean energy, zero-emission transportation, buildings, and energy efficiency. Market signals are clear, so businesses come to California to invest and innovate and bring new clean technologies to market, growing the economy; meanwhile, local governments can feel confident in long-term clean energy and climate planning. Of course, it’s easier to do all that when you’re the world’s fifth-biggest economy. But states can band together, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states have. And any state can — for now, anyway — sign onto California’s vehicle-emissions standards and zero-emission vehicle targets.

California is pushing the US toward a clean energy economy — even while Trump boasted at the UN that the US must “reject globalism… in an ideology of patriotism” — a kind of patriotism that foregrounds the narrow interests of fossil fuel corporations. With evidence mounting that Trump administration policies have already made the planet hotter, the business community in California is acutely aware of the effects that climate change has had on state industry.

Let’s zoom in on some of the comments that the #CleanEconomyGovernor campaign provided to CleanTechnica and unpack how the California’s fiscal progress is reflected in its clean energy policies.


Leading the Way: California’s Clean Energy & Climate Efforts

According to the most recent (Fourth) California Climate Change Assessment Report, global warming impacts will continue to batter the state:

  • The water supply from snowpack is expected to decline 2/3 by 2050.
  • Heatwaves in cities could cause 2–3 times more deaths by 2050.
  • The average area burned annually by wildfires will increase by as much as 77% by 2100.
  • 31–67% of Southern California beaches may completely erode by 2100 without large-scale human interventions.
  • $17.9 billion worth of residential and commercial buildings could be inundated statewide by sea level rise by 2050.

California has refused to stand idle to the side and observe the effects of climate change on its people, ecosystems, and economy. In August, California state lawmakers passed State Senator (and candidate for US Senate) Kevin de León’s SB 100, which increases the target to 50% renewables by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% from “renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources” by 2045.

California’s economy is growing while carbon pollution is declining. With innovative advancements in clean energy and energy efficiency, the state is well on the way to meeting its renewable energy target.

California’s Dedication to Clean Energy

California has established a position of national and global leadership that has helped the state grow its economy into the 5th biggest in the world. California’s gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion. The data demonstrates the sheer immensity of California’s economy, home to nearly 40 million people, a thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley, the nation’s Central Valley agricultural heartland, and a commitment to a clean energy economy. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, zero-emission transportation, and low-carbon buildings are part of an equation of economic and environmental state leadership.

To support this gestalt of technology + environment + economy, the #CleanEconomyGovernor coalition has developed a list of clean energy and climate actions that they want California’s next governor to champion.

7 Targeted Areas of the #CleanEconomyGovernor Initiative

100% clean energy, with swift implementation: California is on the path away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy by moving toward a 100% clean electricity grid, zero emission transportation, electric space and water heating, and energy efficiency.

Clean jobs and economic growth in communities across the state: The next governor should drive public and private investment in energy efficiency, distributed energy resources, battery storage, and renewable energy technologies in every corner of the state.

Benefits for the most disadvantaged communities and polluted neighborhoods: It will be imperative for the next governor to listen and respond to the concerns of California families living near fossil fuel extraction and enduring elevated levels of pollution from the fossil fuel industry.

California climate leadership: California’s upcoming governor will need to bolster California’s global climate leadership through climate change and clean energy commitments, smart climate investments and adaptation measures, and partnerships with cities, states, nations, businesses, universities, and community institutions.

Climate-ready communities: The incoming governor should prepare California communities, infrastructure, and natural lands to adapt to and withstand impacts from climate change, including extreme weather, water scarcity, reduced crop yields, drought, severe wildfire, sea level rise and other climate impacts to protect our people and our economic well-being.

Zero emission transportation and new mobility options: It will be essential for the next governor to establish a comprehensive vision for zero emission transportation by:

  • redesigning the state’s vehicle incentive program to improve access to zero emission vehicles (ZEV)
  • defining a robust financing strategy for the build-out of ZEV infrastructure
  • maximizing the use of available public and private funds

A modernized electricity system: The next governor should upgrade California’s energy system to meet consumer needs and allow innovative technologies to thrive.


Here is Governor Jerry Brown’s executive order that sets the goal of a carbon-neutral state economy by 2045, which is the foundation for the #CleanEconomyGovernor campaign.



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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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