Assembly Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner held a committee hearing today in Oakland on implementing California’s climate-change policies as a path to the state’s economic recovery, in advance of her trip at the end of this week to the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Skinner, D-Berkeley, isn’t using any taxpayer money for the trip to Copenhagen, her staff said, but she will be part of a Golden State contingent including California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols; California Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda Adams; state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, author of the state’s main greenhouse-gas reduction laws; and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“We are moving forward, and we have some great messages to communicate in Copenhagen,” Skinner told reporters at a pre-hearing news conference, noting Californians “should continue to be extremely proud” of the state’s green-economy leadership.
Flanking Skinner at the news conference were Cal professor Dan Kammen, also headed for Copenhagen as a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Electric Vehicles International President and CEO Ricky Hanna; and Recurve President Matt Golden. Hanna and Golden, she said, are proof positive that California’s movement toward embracing greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and other green initiatives “are driving our economy, they are making us more competitive.”
Hanna agreed California’s green legislation, including the AB32 greenhouse-gas reduction legislation, played a key role in EVI’s decision to move from Mexico to Stockton, where it’s producing “an all-American solution that is creating green jobs here in California today.”
And Golden said his company – a San Francisco-based home energy-auditing and remodeling firm formerly known as Sustainable Spaces – believes California’s policies put it the crossroads of the nation’s climate-change goals and job goals, ready to take advantage of an ever-widening river of venture capital flowing toward the green sector.
Skinner cited a new report being released tomorrow by the nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy group Next 10 which says California’s green business sector saw jobs grow three times as fast as total jobs from 1995 to 2008. She also said that of $3.3 billion of venture capital invested nationwide in green businesses last year, about 57 percent of that was in California.
Kammen said California’s policies and new moves across the nation – including yesterday’s long-expected U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruling that greenhouse gases threaten public health, giving the Obama administration power to regulate smokestack and tailpipe emissions that feed global warming whether or not Congress acts – indicate it’s time to “flip the equation” so the nation invests first in renewable energies and uses fossil fuels “only to fill in around the edges.”
Skinner’s staff said she’ll be addressing several breakout sessions at the Copenhagen conference, based on her experience in local green initiatives. From her Web site:
A nationally renowned leader in the fight against global warming, she founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, an organization dedicated to helping local governments around the world become environmental leaders. As Executive Director of ICLEI’s U.S. office, she launched the Cities for Climate Protection Program, the national movement of Mayors and cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that now involves over 500 cities and counties.
As the U.S. Director of The Climate Group, Assemblymember Skinner worked with Fortune 500 companies, clean tech industries and state and national leaders to pass groundbreaking legislation such as California’s global warming bill, AB 32. With a team of writers at Earthworks Press, she also wrote and published the best selling book series 50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth.
Meanwhile, President Obama – in preparation for his own trip to the Copenhagen conference – will meet privately at the White House with a group of business and environmental leaders from across the nation. Among them will be Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of the Oakland-based economic and social equity nonprofit PolicyLink, and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope of San Francisco.