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California should take next steps on climate change

State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, displays an advertisement used against her 2006 greenhouse gas measure in a news conference Aug. 25 on two contentious climate change bills now before the Legislature.
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, displays an advertisement used against her 2006 greenhouse gas measure in a news conference Aug. 25 on two contentious climate change bills now before the Legislature. The Associated Press

California did the right thing in 2006 when it passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB 32. Since 2006, the state has reduced harmful air pollution, attracted billions of dollars in investment and helped spawn the creation of thousands of new advanced energy businesses and jobs.

AB 32, along with several complementary policies, has set clear goals to reduce greenhouse gases through 2020. This created a stable investment environment for businesses. California now has the nation’s largest advanced energy industry, with more than 430,000 workers. What’s more, Next10 projects that a more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target will create 1 million jobs and a 6 percent increase in gross state product by 2030.

However, we are now at a critical point. While California has a clear path through 2020, to truly address our environmental and public health challenges and maximize the economic opportunity before us, we must plan for the long term. Passing targets for the year 2050 through Senate Bill 32 would provide the long-term certainty businesses need and would affirm the state’s commitment to clean, sustainable economic growth.

In Silicon Valley, we know that companies that rest on their laurels are quickly overtaken by their competitors. As the birthplace of technologies such as the microprocessor and autonomous vehicles, the region has become synonymous with innovation. Today we are helping to invent the future of energy. Silicon Valley Leadership Group members including Sunpower, Tesla, SolarCity and dozens more are creating good jobs all across our state in research, design, production, sales and installation.

The incredible innovation we are seeing in Silicon Valley and other parts of the state is due in large part to smart policy that supports a healthy environment and the economy. SB 32 will provide the long-term policy certainty to help spur even more innovation, investment and job creation. Companies will have the confidence to continue developing new technologies and business models.

Businesses also need to start including low-carbon investments into their long-term planning. To ensure smooth, cost-effective planning, it is prudent and timely to begin the process of charting a long-term greenhouse gas reduction path forward for California. SB 32 provides the critical framework to allow this transformation to continue.

Greg Becker is chairman of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and president and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. Carl Guardino is president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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