• CA Kids & Teachers Deserve Healthier Schools Now

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    UC Davis Air Quality & Covid-19 Recovery in K-12 Schools Working Group

    by Ruben Aronin, Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy

    It’s often said that no good crisis should be wasted, and that is a call to action that is especially important to heed as we think about how to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure in a post-COVID world.

    California can create safer and more resilient schools for our children with Assembly Bill 841, the Healthy Schools, Healthy Recovery, Healthy Air bill. This legislation would invest hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade HVAC systems in public schools with better air filters and other features. Far too many public school buildings subject children, teachers, and staff to poor indoor air quality. That’s never been acceptable. But in our current COVID reality, it can be life-threatening. AB841 would put people to work to make our schools and classrooms healthier for our kids and the teachers and other frontline staff who are essential to educating our kids and returning our communities to some semblance of normalcy.

    Read the full blogpost here.

  • Clean Electric Trucks Will Power California Forward

    China’s BYD electric bus company has a factory in Lancaster, California. Credit: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

    by Ruben Aronin, Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy

    This week the California Air Resources Board can show how to respond to our economic, health, and environmental crises with a bold plan that creates jobs while cleaning the air in many of our state’s poorest, most polluted communities.

    California is on the brink of adopting the nation’s first electric truck mandate through the Advanced Clean Truck Rule. This rule promises to provide a critical market signal necessary to transform one of the most polluting industries — dirty truck transportation — into one of the cleanest and greenest.

    If adopted, the state will start requiring a percentage of new trucks sold in California to be zero emission beginning in 2024. The rule will help create jobs and spur foundational economic development by inducing more in-state manufacturing jobs, reducing long-term trucking costs, and accelerating investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

    Read the full blogpost here.

  • Four Principles and 10 Investments to Lead Us Out of the Great COVID-19 Depression

    The current recession has devastated the state’s coffers and California’s ambitious agenda to tackle its many challenges will certainly take a hit. But as we’ve learned from the extraordinary events over the last two weeks, some issues simply cannot be deferred. Climate resiliency is one of them, and the recession offers an impetus to move California toward a green economy that is people-focused and equity-driven. We offer our ideas on guiding principles for a recovery package, followed by 10 green investments that we believe can set us California on the right course out of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

    Read the full blogpost here.

  • Save Cleantech Start-Ups to Save Jobs and the Planet

    by Ruben Aronin, Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy

    While progressive advocates and businesses throughout California and across the country are identifying critical shovel-ready clean and green infrastructure investments for the federal government to support that can put people back to work asap, we must not forget to include the at-risk cleantech startup small businesses that can create an exponentially higher percentage of high-growth jobs. Unfortunately, today these small businesses are struggling for capital to stay alive.

    Today’s robust and cost-effective solar, wind and battery storage clean energy companies as well as our growing clean electric transportation sectors grew out of decades of public investments in cleantech startups. We’re at risk from losing billions of dollars in federal and state grant investments in companies that have been developing promising technologies for the past 10 years or more. These technologies will create domestic jobs – including many manufacturing jobs – and they will accelerate our country’s ability to implement innovations that will help us tackle climate change, reduce energy costs and be at the forefront of exporting these technologies to other countries.

    Without a lifeline of support we’re at risk from thousands of these companies going out of business before bringing their innovations to the marketplace. According to the National Venture Capital Association, “since March 11, 2020, about 300 U.S. startups have laid off about 30,000 employees across the country. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg for what will be tough times for startups over the coming months.”

    One local Santa Barbara cleantech startup, Next Energy Technologies, Inc., has licensed technology developed at UC Santa Barbara that allows them to manufacture transparent photovoltaics designed to advance the sustainability of buildings which currently account for more than 40% of global energy consumption. Next Energy’s window technology has a payback of just 1 year and can help building owners and tenants dramatically save on energy costs while creating new glass manufacturing jobs. They are poised to help accelerate zero energy and carbon neutral buildings in cities throughout the US and across the world. Next Energy’s innovations were recognized by the Department of Energy and received funding from its SunShot Tech-2 market program. They have 30 employees on staff today, are mobilizing demonstration projects and are within 12 months of manufacturing a unique solar window product that could help transform how buildings generate some of their own electricity.

    There are more than 1,600 cleantech businesses that have received over $1.6 billion dollars from popular federal programs at the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. By doubling down on these investments, we can save thousands of jobs that are immediately at risk and ensure that the tens of thousands of jobs this sector will create in the coming months and years will come to fruition.

    The New York Times recently reported that the DOE is holding onto more than $40 billion dollars in low-interest loan funds for clean tech and clean transportation projects. Just a small portion of those dollars could be redirected to support existing cleantech grantees with forgivable loans without Congress having to even appropriate any new stimulus funds.

    As we prioritize public investments in companies that will drive innovation and put our country back to work tomorrow and in the tomorrows to come, let’s not leave our cleantech small business startups behind.

  • Welcome to the Macroscope

    by Cecilia V. Estolano, CEO, Estolano Advisors and Better World Group

    Our world becomes smaller and slower as we shelter in place. We plan the next meal, try to keep the kids occupied, give our partner space, check our supply of essentials, affix a mask before a walk outside, and swipe through headlines and social media to remember what day it is and assess when we might return to normal times.

    “Normal” times aren’t returning. This virus — and a uniquely unprepared and unqualified President’s mismanagement of the federal government’s response to it — ripped a gash in history. This year was always going to be consequential because of the Presidential election in November. Now, only mid-way through April, we have more than 2 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, with nearly 800,000 cases and over 42,000 deaths in the United States alone. The economy is in a coma, record numbers of people are filing for unemployment, and there is still no nationally coordinated plan to reemerge from this shutdown. It feels like 2020 may become one of those years, like 1492, 1619, 1810, 1848, or 1989, when the historical timeline cracked open and a new world emerged.

    We’re launching the Macroscope because we know we must pull back to see the big picture. As students of history, idealism, and activism, we know that the way to make the world better is to project a vision of the world we want, share ideas, connect with others, and organize. Otherwise, it will not happen.

    Read the full blogpost here.

  • Effective & Essential: US-China New Energy Vehicle (NEV) Cooperation

    Guest blog by Yair Crane
    December, 2017

    Last month, I had the pleasure of co-leading the first New Energy Vehicle (NEV) Trade Mission to China from the US, since China declared an imminent ban on diesel and gas vehicles. The mission took place in Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong, and allowed each US company CEOs and their representatives to meet over 40 leading companies, JV partners, investors, and teaming partners.

    PHOTO: Trade Mission delegates with Charles Bennett, Consul General, US Embassy in Guangzhou, China. (Guangzhou is seeking to become the Detroit of China).

    As the Cleantech Development Manager for the US-China Clean Tech Center, I manage our relationships with clean technology companies, investors, research and innovation centers, and project developers, while supporting our Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Feng An. For our NEV trade mission, I recruited 17 innovative companies engaged in NEV technologies for the passenger, commercial, bus, and heavy-duty truck markets; this included electric battery, hydrogen fuel cell, and hybrid technologies, as well as AI, wireless charging, and advanced lithium ion battery technology firms. Rather than summarize the trip, here are three realities confirmed by our activities.

    1) We could have brought 50 companies. Today, we have an unprecedented amount of NEV technology offerings in the US, coupled with an ever-growing demand for NZEV and ZEV in China. Subsidies play a role, as WSJ pointed out, but they are not the only factor and, in fact, as a percentage of EV price, Chinese subsidies are lower than that of some Scandinavian countries. Regardless of the policies in the US at the national or sub-national levels, in general, and regardless of the policies of specific auto manufacturers, China’s declaration has directly influenced the future of the worldwide automotive industry. Just the other day, Shell announced a major charging initiative for highways with Ford, BWM, Volkswagen, and Daimler.

    Beyond the environmental and sustainability motivations, any rational auto manufacturer and technology supplier will focus or double-down their investments in NZEV and ZEV to sell in the largest auto market in the world.  Read: It doesn’t make a difference if the US bans diesel and gas cars or if California enacts a ban or if Ford choses to stop manufacturing diesel and gas vehicles; companies (regardless of where their HQ is located) will increase, re-allocate, and shift resources toward NZEV and ZEV – or not survive.

    Some have equated this “China EV effect” to the “California MPG effect on steroids.” Global auto manufactures have long produced vehicles to sell in the US based on the standards of California – the largest car market in the US and with the strictest emissions and MPG regulations. This presents a golden opportunity for the resurgence of US auto manufacturing, by ramping up NZEV and ZEV production – a boon for employment, trade and the economy. When one includes the commercial, bus, and heavy-duty truck sectors, the benefits for US employment, trade, and the economy multiply exponentially.

    1. The Rise of Auto-Mobility. Investments in clean energy and clean transportation have and will continue to benefit the US economy (reports are widely available on jobs created and sustained, as well as the economic impacts, for example). However, this trade mission clearly demonstrated sea-changes in the auto industry which must be heeded by US companies, investors, and leaders in clean transportation.

    The rise of the connected-car, ride sharing, automatic driver assistance, autonomous driving/AI, and related innovations have spurred investments in the billions of USD within China. The US must recognize the long-term economic importance of funding and investing in research, commercialization, and scaling of similar technologies as the new auto-mobility paradigm becomes entrenched worldwide.

    My colleague Bill Russo, a globally recognized automotive and mobility expert with over 35 years of experience including 15+ years as an automotive executive, with more than 13 years in China, writes: “Connected mobility, which we define as ‘technology-enabled on-demand mobility services for moving people and goods from point A to B’, has become a disruptive, paradigm-changing development in the automotive industry. It requires a complete rethinking of the way to deliver value to the market.” To further escalate the positive economic impact of NZEV and ZEV, traditional US auto manufactures “must widen their focus from the product (the automobile) to the utility derived from the product (‘automobility’), and create a business model and digital ecosystem optimized to provide digitally enabled solutions for both car owners and mobility services users.”

    The economic potential in auto-mobility continues to grow, and estimates continue to be re-adjusted upwards, especially as Smart Cities, embedded with IoT, become a reality. The annual massive tech gather CES (Consumer Electronics Show), held every January in Las Vegas, recently launched Self-Driving and Connected Car initiatives, and some say it will need it’s own show soon, given the number of companies exhibiting. Public and private sector investment must be made now if the US wants to benefit from the ever-increasing jobs and economic benefits of this new, advanced automobile age.

    1. IP is now VIP. Thanks to our partnership with the US Department of Commerce (DOC), one of UCCTC’s main objectives – and most important – is to increase cleantech exports from the US to China and support manufacturing and export related jobs in the US. We have also been able to work with the DOC to introduce many of our clients and trade mission attendees to both DOC and private sector IP experts, to assist in navigating through the copyright, trademark and IP morass.

    Times have changed, and the Chinese IP market has transformed and matured to the point that Chinese firms understand the value of protecting the most innovative IP they have licensed and/or co-created. Further, the IP produced by Chinese firms continues to grow year over year. As Chris Wilson summarized in a recent blog post: “There’s a general trend for more and better enforcement of IP rights, largely because the Chinese market is evolving from being populated by copiers to being populated by innovators. It’s not surprising, really. Every country that starts to become an innovator starts to pay more attention to IP rights.”

    This has spurred a radical change in strategy for US firms, which now must seek partners in China with this appreciation of IP and the wherewithal to defend it. One of our key offerings is to introduce US companies to reliable, reputable, and financially sound Chinese partners who can help defend IP in their own market, fending off other Chinese copyright violators. Comprehensive due diligence of potential partners has always been crucial; however, we highly recommend a thorough analysis of a potential partner’s financial resources for IP matters, investigation of the potential partner’s IP portfolio, as well as their track record of defending their own IP in China.

    As Jason Zukus from The Diplomat eloquently wrote this past July: “As with many issues in China, the status of Chinese IP rights defies one-dimensional stereotypes. While IP infringement is no longer tolerated with impunity in China, the country also still has progress to make in updating IP laws and strengthening enforcement. Overall, through a mix of market incentives and political pressure, China appears to be emerging as a global IP leader. And with senior Chinese leadership continuing to support IP rights at conferences like ‘Summer Davos,’ the cultivation of entrepreneurship and intellectual property in China shows no signs of slowing.”

    Ultimately, this US-China NEV trade mission proved and solidified many of the NEV-related investment hypotheses I have been active in and pursued for the last decade; expanding and refining these investment hypotheses will continue as I collaborate with my colleagues involved in the dynamic and fundamental US-China NEV relationship.

    I look forward to your comments and feedback. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to learn more about our investment, consulting, and cross-border services, or would like to connect with the more than 3,500 cleantech companies, corporate venture funds, technology providers, and investors in our database, since launching in 2008.


  • California’s Job Creators Strongly Support Cap-and-Trade Program to Advance Economic Growth

    A coalition of leading business groups that collaborate with thousands of large and small businesses from various sectors that collectively employee hundreds of thousands of Californians, is strongly supportive of extending one of California’s most effective climate initiatives – the Cap-and-Trade Program.

    At a time of tremendous uncertainty for businesses, due to the significant federal policy changes being proposed by the Trump Administration, California needs to give a signal to the business community that it will stay the course on one of the most effective and efficient climate initiatives. The Cap-and-Trade Program is driving community investments and economic activity such as clean energy investment throughout our state. The positive economic impacts cut across the many sectors and geographies of the California economy thatare represented by this coalition.

    Our coalition supports the extension of the California Cap-and-Trade program because it:

    * Provides market certainty – and regulatory continuity – that is critical for businesses.
    * Reduces greenhouse gases (GHGs) at the least cost.
    * Results in certain, quantifiable GHG emission reductions.
    * Creates an opportunity to maximize investments in carbon reduction programs that create jobs and economic growth.
    * Complements California’s important direct emission reduction rules and laws.
    * Allows us to build on successes and link to markets in other jurisdictions.
    * Offers a flexible program that can be strengthened to generate greater emissions reductions over time if needed.
    * Provides revenues, when distributed appropriately, to bring clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.

    These investments are prudent as these communities are often disproportionally impacted by air pollution. Our partner businesses employ and serve customers in these very communities.

    California’s Cap-and-Trade program, including its emphasis on addressing issues surrounding disadvantaged communities, is an internationally recognized credible program that has served and will continue to serve as a model at the subnational, national and international levels.

    Our coalition acknowledges the importance of addressing the concerns of disadvantaged and low-income communities. We are supportive of optimizing California’s climate program to appropriately address those issues to ensure that the benefits of the program are realized by all Californians.


  • Here’s What California’s Climate Policies Have Done to the State’s Economy

    Guest Blog by Bob Keefe, Executive Director, E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs)
    August 12, 2016

    What have California’s climate policies done for the state’s economy? Injected about $48 billion into communities across the state in the past decade and helped create about 500,000 jobs. That’s the synopsis of a new analysis by my organization, the national, nonpartisan business group and Alliance Member E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), of available data on California’s Global Warming Solutions Act — also known as AB 32 — and related policies. Lawmakers in Sacramento are now debating legislation (under the aptly named SB 32) that would extend the emissions targets set by AB 32 for an additional 10 years past the current deadline of 2020.

    It’s clear that AB 32 and related policies are already paying off big time for California’s economy. Today, the state is by far the nation’s leader in clean energy jobs and investments. No other state comes close. The state’s existing emission reduction goals and related programs have funded solar, wind and energy efficiency projects in communities from Shasta to San Diego, helping homeowners, schools, farms and businesses save money while also reducing pollution.

    And importantly, California’s leadership on climate policies has given clean energy investors, companies and their employees badly needed clarity about where the state’s energy marketplace is headed, which is critical for business planning.

    E2’s analysis shows that each and every one of the state’s 80 Assembly districts have benefitted from AB 32 and related policies over the past 10 years. You can see all of the data here. Some examples:

    keefe-e2 blog

    • Assembly District 56, which includes Coachella and is represented by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D), has received $4.5 billion in investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation projects tied to the Global Warming Solutions Act that has helped create nearly 3,000 new local jobs.

    • Assembly District 31, which is west of Fresno and represented by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D), has received $1.2 billion in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation projects. This has helped create more than 2,300 jobs and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking more than 92,500 cars off the road for one year.

    • Assembly District 35, which includes San Luis Obispo and is represented by Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R), has received nearly $1.9 billion in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation projects. This has helped create more than 7,400 local jobs and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking nearly 5,700 cars off the road for one year.

    In a nutshell, the Golden State’s climate policies have been golden for its economy, in every corner of the state.

    E2 is a member of the CA Business Alliance for a Clean Economy.

  • West Coast Clean Economy Report: California’s Policies are Paying Off

    by Susan Frank, Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy
    December 2, 2015

    It’s validating to read a report that mirrors what we have been saying for years – that California’s clean energy policies are paying dividends for residents, businesses and workers. In “West Coast Clean Economy: 2010-2014 Jobs Update,”  it is clear that California is helping to foster a growing clean economy throughout the West Coast in conjunction with Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

    clean economy snapshotThe report, commissioned by the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) and completed by The Delphi Group, shows that between 2010 and 2014, California added 71,000 clean economy jobs for a total of 368,200. This represents a 24 percent jobs increase since 2010, while the state’s clean economy GDP grew by more than 32 percent.

    Other important findings in the report include:

    • west coast clean economyThe West Coast economy as a whole grew more than twice as fast as the region’s overall job growth.
    • As of 2014, the region includes 577,372 clean economy jobs – an increase of 91,656 (approximately 19 percent) since 2010. The job growth has been most significant in the green building, energy efficiency, and clean energy supply sectors.

    It is reports like these that provide justification for the work we do at the CA Business Alliance on behalf of our 1,300 member companies, business associations and chambers of commerce. Every day, we represent your interests by pushing for the effective implementation and defense of the state’s clean energy policies.

    The results of the PCC report are indisputable: – clean energy and climate policies are key drivers of economic and job growth.

    As world leaders, including our own impressive California delegation, convene at the Climate Summit in Paris this week, they should be emboldened by the data which supports taking action toward creating a global clean energy economy. They also should feel strong support coming from California businesses owners who are ahead of the climate change curve, and ready for more dividends from clean energy progress.


    by Ruben Aronin, Deputy Director, California Business Alliance for a Clean Economy
    November 20, 2015

    biden picVice President Joe Biden recently celebrated Alliance member, LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and the opening of its new LaKretz Innovation Campus by participating in a panel of investors and entrepreneurs to discuss jobs and clean technology. California is leading the way in creating business and economic opportunities from our robust and growing clean energy economy.

    lakretz campusBiden praised the efforts of Mayor Eric Garcetti, LACI, and entrepreneurs at the roundtable. “This incubator brings together innovative minds with the courage to take a chance on a new idea…you have a mayor with a vision…a sense of optimism,” said Biden. There’s power in an incubator… using science and technology to take an idea from paper to product to the marketplace.”

    I had the chance to visit the La Kretz Innovation Campus while it was still under construction this summer. The impressive facility features offices, conference rooms, a wet lab, a prototype manufacturing workshop, and classrooms in a fully renovated 60,000 square foot building – plus a new Arts District Park and surface parking with a photovoltaic solar canopy.

    “This is where the magic happens…invention, innovation, incubation,” said LACI’s CEO Fred Walti. “This (La Kretz) is a unique place to build a company…a cleantech entrepreneur can take an idea, do research, go down the hall and prototype, then go across the hall to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, and test and get an idea certified…then get a chance to get the idea to marketplace. There’s no other place like this… this is the model for the future.”

    Featured panelists in the vice presidential forum included several entrepreneurs from LACI’s portfolio of companies such as Alliance member Pick My Solar, which recently won Techweek LA’s Launch Competition. Other high-level participants included LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Kelli Bernard, LACI Board Members Jim McDermott, Richard Morganstern and David Nahai, and TCW Managing Director Tom Soto.

    Vice President Biden told Pick My Solar co-founder Chris Blevins that he was looking forward to his help finding the best deal for installing solar on his house and Blevins replied that he’d like to do that for the White House, too.

    The Vice President’s visit illustrates that LACI and its members are engaged in entrepreneurial leadership worthy of national recognition. Biden closed his comments by telling the assembled entrepreneurs, “You represent the future.”

    That future is bright, and powered by a clean energy economy.

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