Study: Golden State Should Change Name to Greenest State

California's economy is not only the "least carbon-intensive" in the United States, it's the second lowest in the world when measured per economic output, according to a new study that evaluates economics and environment.
May 19, 2015, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The Golden State has the world’s second least carbon-intensive economy, according to a new study from public policy group Next 10writes David R. Baker, energy and clean tech reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. "Only France, with its large fleet of nuclear power plants, emits fewer greenhouse gases for each dollar (or euro) of economic activity."

As California's economy becomes more productive, it is lowering its greenhouse gas emissions per capita, that's one of the report's findings.

"From 1990 through 2012, California’s greenhouse gas emissions shrank by 25 percent per person — largely the result of more efficient homes, appliances and cars — while per capita gross domestic product rose 37 percent."

As for all those governmental regulations that Republicans rail against, they are key to the state's green productivity. "Much of the credit, said venture capitalist F. Noel Perry, who founded Next 10, goes to California policies that emphasize energy efficiency and boost renewable power."

Perhaps not enough credit is given to the leadership role played by Gov. Jerry Brown who is behind many of those new laws and regulations working to make the Golden State greener. On April 29, Brown "issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 - the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half," according to his press release.

SB 350, dubbed the Golden State Standards 50-50-50 bill, authored by Senator Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, reduces oil use by 50% by 203, and increases building energy efficiency by 50% by 2030. All three environmental goals were unveiled in the governor's inaugural address in January.

Among the state's green attributes that reduce the economy's green intensity:

"California’s clean-technology industry attracted more venture capital in 2014 than any other state or country, $5.7 billion," writes Baker, Interesting, "the report counts ride services as a clean technology," and most of the increased investment from 2013 went to Uber.

The idea for the report was inspired by the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in December, writes Baker.

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Correspondent's note: Article appeared in print on page D1 of the Business Report section of the Monday, May 18 San Francisco Chronicle.

Full Story:
Published on Sunday, May 17, 2015 in San Francisco Chronicle
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