California’s landmark greenhouse gas law benefits small business

It is with growing concern that I pick up the newspaper to read about the implementation of AB32, our state’s historic effort to cut our global warming pollution emissions back to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Not because I don’t support the effort—because I do.

However, more and more, I see individuals claiming to represent small business interests in California, working to slow or obstruct the state’s efforts to address the very real and very serious environmental and economic impacts of global warming. May I say as clearly and plainly as possible that these individuals do not speak for me, nor do they speak for Small Business California.

In fact, Small Business California, which represents the interests of 3.2 million small businesses in our state, was the first general business association to give a full-throated endorsement of California’s first-in-the-nation effort to create and implement a structured plan to address global warming. Why? Because AB32 brings with it concrete opportunities for energy savings, investments, innovation, and new jobs for small business. Small and nimble California companies focused on cutting edge energy innovations will flourish under AB32, so too will traditional heating, ventilating, and air conditioning contractors, and the small business customers they serve.

Small businesses across California are hurting right now because of the high cost of energy. A recent National Small Business Association survey found that 18 percent of small businesses report they’ve had to reduce their workforce in order to keep up with the rising cost of energy. The simple truth is that the cost of polluting fossil fuels has nowhere to go but up. One day our finite fossil fuel resources will run out, or become so expensive that they will no longer be feasible sources of energy. When that time comes, we will be forced to scramble into crisis mode to find alternative sources of energy. Before that time comes, however, we can choose a different, more responsible, and profitable path.

AB32 sets California on a path of planning and preparation by creating markets for new and better sources of renewable energy sooner rather than later. Unlike polluting fossil fuels, the growing and increasingly diverse renewable energy market will force the cost to create and distribute renewable energy down over time while also bringing jobs to California. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that Americans could save $13 to $18.1 billion on our energy bills by the year 2020 by adopting a national renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to generate at least 15 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources.

Energy efficiency measures, like those being considered under AB32 are also key. California’s economy is growing, strong, and diverse, in part because of our commitment to energy efficiency. Because of energy efficiency technologies and programs, California’s per capita energy usage has remained flat over the past 30 years—the rest of the country saw per capita increases of 50 percent. Because of our flat energy usage, California small businesses have a competitive edge over our counterparts in other states—comparatively we’re saving on the cost of energy, while they’re wasting money on inefficiency. AB32 will create greater efficiencies, which will translate into dollars saved for California small businesses.

AB32 promises to spark great innovation, efficiency, and investment in California. All are vital to the success of small business in our state. The next time someone plaintively asks how small business will survive AB32, rest assured, small business welcomes AB32 and the investment, innovation, and jobs it will bring to California.

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