Op Ed: Debra Bowman, VP Business DevelopmentTechnology Credit Union
Last week, the BACC (Bay Area Climate Collaborative) and Silicon Valley Leadership Group held an event aptly titled “Sustainable Cities” which brought together local government, business and non-profit leaders who are interested in sustainability. The objective was to connect those working in clean technology with government representatives, sparking conversation about how public/private partnerships can help cities reach their sustainability goals.
The underlying message of the event focused on the fact that local governments have both a social and environmental responsibility to move toward sustainable policies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from city, county, and other entities in the Bay Area. In doing so, they are also playing a key role in helping to spur the growth of a green economy which has the potential to bring the Bay Area out of its economic malaise by creating a market for green jobs and potentially bringing back manufacturing to the area.
When our leaders adopt policies that encourage the growth of green industries such as renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, bio-energy and hydropower), energy efficient building and development, water conservation, electric vehicles and improved public transportation and waste reduction and reprocessing, they are also driving innovation.
Subsequently, the innovation of products and processes drives economic growth. Some reports estimate that a clean energy industry can provide 3.2 million jobs nationwide. As an example of the affect these policies have on job growth, since initiating AB 32, California’s landmark climate change legislation, California has added some 500,000 green jobs.
According to the Governor’s office, “while the rest of the economy struggled with job losses of one percent, the clean tech sector surged ahead in 2007-2008 with growth of five percent. The green economy could soon become the nation’s fastest-growing job segment, accounting for roughly 10 percent of new jobs over the next 20 years – up to 4.2 million new green jobs.”
Our nation’s leaders agree that energy policy is a key component to economic recovery in the U.S., though they may not agree on how it should take shape. One thing is for sure, though, we don’t have to sit around and wait to see what Washington decides. Local legislative action can make a big difference in spurring a green economy right here in the Bay Area. And, if that means jobs for our people, then it makes all the more sense.
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