Hot on the heels of Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s energy-efficiency event yesterday and the running battle between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and would-be governor Meg Whitman over whether to halt California’s work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a new study suggests California will save money and jobs by fighting climate change.
Using price forecasts from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Annual Energy Outlook, the study estimates that without diversifying California’s energy portfolio toward more renewable fuels and energy efficiency, the state risks losing more than $80 billion in Gross State Product and more than a half million jobs by 2020. But implementing 33 percent renewable energy, combined with 1 percent annual improvement in energy efficiency, shields the economy from higher energy prices and yields a growth dividend, increasing GSP by $20 billion and generating 112,000 jobs, the report says.
“Energy Prices & California’s Economic Security” was authored by University of California, Berkeley Adjunct Professor David Roland-Holst for Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit aimed at educating and engaging Californians to brighten the state’s future; it’s the same group that runs the online “Budget Challenge” each year.
“There has been considerable public debate over the projected economic impacts of California’s first-in-the-nation climate policies,” Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry said in a news release. “To date, no one has modeled the economic impact of doing nothing to change our energy mix. Today’s report clearly reveals the economic risk inherent in over-reliance on fossil fuels.”
Said Roland-Holst: “The global financial crisis has hit hard in California, where unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and an unprecedented state budget deficit are among the highest in the nation. But the current decline in demand in global energy markets is temporary and risks lulling policymakers and the public into a state of denial about long-term fossil fuel price trends.
“Even using conservative official estimates, we find that California risks far greater economic peril by remaining heavily dependent upon fossil fuels,” he said. “Energy efficiency and renewables offer a valuable hedge against the risks of higher energy prices.”