Normally business and local government have plenty of work to do without taking on state, federal and international policy challenges but these are not normal times. And the stakes could not be higher.
The climate crisis is creating havoc for California. With more than 4.2 million acres burned by wildfires last year, creating eerie orange skies and leaving layers of toxic smoke smothering our state, every Californian and every business was impacted. But it wasn’t just 2020. A new economic impact report of the 2018 fires in California puts the price of those infernos at $150 billion. That’s money that could have gone into improving schools, medical research, infrastructure, and access to affordable housing— all the elements that until now have made California the 5th largest economy in the world, and the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.
Another study shows that $80 billion invested in climate measures in California would generate 727,000 new jobs. On the other hand, inaction is significantly more costly than action. Energy Innovation just released a report that argues waiting until 2030 to make significant investments in climate mitigation measures more than doubles the cost.
If we do nothing, the fire seasons will only get worse as climate change marches forward. With nine of 15 global climate tipping points already activated and new science documenting climate impacts worsening more quickly than anticipated, we must do much more, much sooner. Our future depends on it as does our bottom line.
Scientists and economists are clear. We must dramatically cut emissions and remove warming pollutants we’ve already put into the atmosphere in order to secure a climate-safe future.
The times demand that businesses, along with local governments, join others in actively working for bolder climate policy from the state.
That is why Joint Venture Silicon Valley in collaboration with The Climate Center and others is now spearheading the ambitious Climate-Safe California campaign that offers targets and solutions commensurate with the latest science.
With over 1,050 endorsements to date from business, elected officials, nonprofit leaders and others, we are reaching out to you to join us in endorsing this urgent effort. We must let Governor Newsom and state legislature know that businesses and elected officials demand more. Californians deserve more. In the past California has been a climate policy leader, but now is falling behind.
Boris Johnson’s conservative government just set a climate target to reduce carbon emissions 68% below 1990 levels by 2030 and a goal to phase out new-sales fossil fuel passenger vehicles by 2030. By contrast, California’s climate target for 2030 is only 40% and 2035 to phase out fossil passenger vehicles by 2035. It is now time to reassert California’s leadership in climate action.
We need to make large investments in electric vehicle charging, especially for multifamily housing projects, in community energy resilience planning, and in programs that support agriculture that will take carbon out of the atmosphere and lock it in the soil. These investments will create business, stimulate private investment, create jobs, increase water retention in the soil and agricultural productivity, modernize the grid, and make our communities more resilient while making California more competitive in the global economy.
Many of the companies in Silicon Valley have been leaders in reducing carbon emissions in their internal operations and in their supply chains. This is good, but it’s not enough. We all need to take an unequivocal public stand for policies that will address the climate crisis at the speed and scale demanded by the science. Many state leaders understand the need for bold action but they have to feel broad support for this from other leaders around the state to be willing to do so.
We must make our voices heard in Sacramento, especially at this critical pivot point as we plan for post-COVID recovery.
Please join us by endorsing Climate-Safe California today.
For more information and to endorse: theclimatecenter.org/endorsement
Susan Ellenberg is a member of the Board of Supervisors for Santa Clara County, Dave Pine is a member of the Board of Supervisors for San Mateo County, and Matt Mahan a member of the San José City Council.