by Ruben Aronin, Assistant Director, California Business Alliance
August 5, 2014
Last month, I had the pleasure of representing the nearly 1,300 members of the California Business Alliance as a delegate on California Governor Jerry Brown’s Trade Mission to Mexico. The impressive delegation included numerous senior state government officials, incoming State Senate pro Tem-elect Kevin DeLeón, 14 other state legislators as well as more than 90 business and clean energy leaders from across California.
The purpose of the trip was to strengthen and broaden relations around clean energy, trade and education. During the trip, Governor Brown met with President Nieto and his senior ministers and signed several MOUs to implement a more robust partnership around these critical issues.
Several Administration officials and state legislators shared with me that it was especially appropriate that the clean energy and climate change MOUs were signed during this trade mission as the future business and investment opportunities for companies in California and Mexico will come from deploying and scaling clean energy and clean transportation technologies. These MOUs will support and advance the business innovations that not only will help transform our regional economies in North America but also will lead to robust export markets because they will provide solutions desperately needed around the world.
“California and Mexico both take the low-carbon imperative with utmost seriousness,” said Governor Brown. “By this agreement, we intend to work together to dramatically increase solar, wind and other renewable investments.” The agreement signed outlines a partnership for Mexico and California to work closely together to promote and collaborate on low carbon energy, clean technologies, biofuels and energy efficiency to enhance reliability and affordability of energy supplies.
At the first day’s signing of the climate change MOU with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Rodolfo Lacy and Mexican National Forestry Commission Director General Jorge Rescala Pérez, Governor Brown said, “California can’t do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases.” The Governor then gave a vigorous defense of AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy and climate law, saying that it takes a lot of “political skill and will” to advance change but that he’s committed to defending the law against entrenched interests who are spending money to try to unravel some of its key provisions.
During the trip, I was pleased to meet many leaders from California’s robust solar, clean and renewable energy sectors, who came to explore investment opportunities in Mexico. It was interesting although not surprising to learn that Mexico, like other nations, would like to replicate California’s success with creating clean energy policies that drive investments and job creation. Jose Ramon Ardavin Ituarte, Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Mexico, an organization similar to the Business Alliance, spoke passionately about the opportunities to tap into solar, wind and geothermal clean energy solutions throughout the country.
Over the course of the trip, Governor Brown and Administration officials reiterated that the agreements being signed represented the beginning of a practical hands-on partnership between California and Mexico to help both parties advance their economic and clean energy goals. Thanks to California’s government and business leadership, there is now a solid regional roadmap to follow that can expand innovation while driving economic growth.
In the last 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has increased 470% to more than $500 billion annually. There is every reason to believe that the economic benefits of a clean energy collaboration jumpstarted by California and Mexico this summer will yield similar results.