Apple, SolarCity, San Diego International Airport, Sungevity and Sapphire Energy have joined with more than 120 California-based companies in signing the Climate Declaration, a business leader call to action that urges federal and state policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of addressing climate change.
Launched last year by Ceres and its business network, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), the Climate Declaration has more than 700 signatories nationwide, including General Motors, Unilever, Gap, and eBay.
The California signatories added their own special message to the declaration for Washington:
“As the world’s 8th largest economy, California is a champion of clean energy progress and innovation,” states the declaration. “Thanks in part to its smart energy policies including its landmark climate law, AB32, California has been a global leader in job creation, clean energy investments and GDP growth.”
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California leads the nation in renewable energy development, with more than 43,700 jobs in 2012 in the solar industry (one-third of all solar jobs in the U.S.) and more than 7,000 jobs in the wind industry. In 2013, the state doubled its solar rooftop installations, from 1,000 megawatts to 2,000 megawatts. It also ranks 48th in the country in per capita energy consumption, due in part to the state’s strong energy efficiency programs.
“The 140 plus California companies which have signed the Climate Declaration see the financial upside of tackling climate change today, both for their own bottom lines and the overall economy," said Anne Kelly, director of policy and BICEP at Ceres, a Boston-based nonprofit sustainability advocacy group. “We welcome them, invite others to come on board and applaud the state of California for its bold steadfast leadership on climate and energy policy.”
San Diego-based Sapphire Energy is pioneering an entirely new industry — Green Crude — that enhances and replaces petroleum-based products with a low carbon, renewable and scalable fuel. Unlike traditional biofuels, Green Crude products and processes are made solely from photosynthetic microorganisms (algae and cyanobacteria), using sunlight and CO2 as their feedstock. They are not dependent on food crops or valuable farmland, or use potable water. Sapphire has a research and development facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and is currently operating the first Integrated Algal BioRefinery in Columbus, New Mexico.
Many of the signatories also are engaging further with policy makers, Ceres says. Seventy percent of the major company signatories (those with over $100 million in annual revenues) have expressed their views on the need for climate policy by lobbying on Capitol Hill, sending a letter and/or engaging with the public through social media.
“We see the dire impacts of climate change happening now,” said Hans Cole, Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy Manager, Patagonia, Inc. “California’s decreased snow pack in the mountains and corresponding water scarcity will affect everyone. But, there is an opportunity to spur innovation, shift policy and steer a different course. We will continue to support this movement and effective solutions at the state and federal levels.”
Last October, twenty major U.S. brands including Starbucks, Unilever and Mars, Inc. publicly called for the White House to follow through on climate-change preparedness efforts outlined in the Climate Action Plan announced by President Obama on June 25. The letter’s corporate cited the economic impacts of severe weather events on business operations and called for ongoing and significant investments to be made in strengthening climate change resiliency both in the United States and the world’s most vulnerable countries.
Last year, leading scientists from around the world said they are now 95 percent confident that human influence is the dominant cause of global warming, according to the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Nevertheless, a 2013 Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) report said that global investment in climate change plateaued at $359 billion in 2012, around the same as the previous year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world needs to invest at least $5 trillion by 2020 to limit the effects of global warming.