Google Comes Out Swinging for California Climate Law

Google Comes Out Swinging for California Climate Law

Images CC licensed by Flickr user pfala and EduardoZ

Google threw its considerable weight behind California's landmark climate change law this week, when it hosted an event where it argued an upcoming measure to kill the law would derail past and future gains made in cleantech job growth.

Google hosted the event with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, featuring California Air Resources Board chairwoman Mary Nichols, venture capitalist guru Vinod Khosla, Google Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl, and PG&E senior vice president Tom Bottorff, who discussed the negative implications from Proposition 23, which would derail the state's climate law, also known as AB 32.

Google, eBay, Levi Strauss & Co., Patagonia, PG&E, Virgin America, Warner Bros. and dozens of other businesses throughout the state have joined Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, a coalition that oppose Proposition 23. They're up against Prop 23's backers -- largely out of state oil companies such as Valero and Tesoro, which are pouring millions into the campaign. Valero alone has spent $4 million on the effort.

California residents will vote on Prop 23 in November and decide whether to suspend the AB 32, offically named the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, until the state's unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. The unemployment rate now stands at 12.3 percent, worrying opponents that Prop 23 would effectively kill AB 32.

But spiking AB 32, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020, would torpedo future cleantech investment, Weihl argued, potentially driving venture capital dollars overseas at time when the state is attracting the lion's share of cleantech investment dollars.

"Rolling (AB32) back would get rid of the certainty that investors rely on," Weihl said, CNET reported.

In a subsequent blog post, Weihl noted that California has enjoyed a 45 percent increase in green businesses and a 36 percent boost in green jobs. He applauded Eric Schmidt, who said: "In Silicon Valley, it was the limitations of one technology or system that served as the drivers of change and led to the success of our industries here. AB32 provides a similar opportunity for new job creation in many sectors as business responds to the need for energy-efficient buildings, transportation and a growing portfolio of renewable energy resources."

A recent poll suggests the California public is behind AB 32, with 66 percent favoring AB 32. Fifty-three percent said the government should take action right away to curb greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 42 percent who said the state should wait until the economy and job situation improves.

Images CC licensed by Flickr user pfala and EduardoZ.