Two new studies have popped up over the last week showing that global warming regulations can strengthen California’s economy with negligible costs.

These results confirm that the best medicine for our sputtering grey economy is a strong infusion of green policy.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

On Wednesday, Next 10 and Collaborative Economics Inc. released a study showing that California’s green economy has continued to grow, despite the economic downturn and that more growth could be on the horizon if we stay committed to our climate goals.  

The study found that green jobs statewide increased from 117,000 in 1995 to 159,000 in 2008. The number of green businesses increased 45 percent during that same period, expanding from 9,000 in 1995 to about 13,000 in 2008. Even as statewide employment fell during 2007-08, green jobs grew at a rate of 5 percent.

Doug Henton, CEO of Collaborative Economics, notes that the state is poised for more growth in the green jobs sector. “California is home to companies driving technological advances in clean energy products and services. Green technology has the potential to do for energy, the world’s largest sector by revenue, what IT did for communications.”

Tiny, Tiny Costs

On Thursday, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report showing that the costs for small businesses operating under AB 32, the state’s landmark global warming law, is mere pennies. The report found that AB 32 policies will only increase the percent of small business revenue spent on energy by 0.3 percentage points-from 1.4 to 1.7 percent in 2020. In a case study which examines a real world small business – L.A.’s Border Grill restaurant – the report finds AB 32 will cost diners a mere 3 cents extra per $20 meal in 2020.

The peer reviewed first-of-its-kind economic analysis was conducted by The Brattle Group, an international economic consulting firm. Jurgen Weiss of the Brattle Group said the energy price changes they found were remarkably small, given the overall fluctuation in business costs.

“The AB 32 cost impact pales in comparison to the effect of inflation over ten years, and falls well within the range of historic cost variation most small businesses face everyday regardless of climate policy.”

The report does not fully reflect the potential cost savings from energy efficiency or avoided climate impacts.

Traci Sheehan is the Executive Director of The Planning and Conservation League, a statewide, nonprofit lobbying organization. For more than thirty
years, PCL has fought to develop a body of environmental laws in
California that is the best in the United States.