Daniel Weiss, managing partner of Angeleno Group, describes on the latest episode of “The Bottom Line” podcast how clean energy has moved from the realm of politics and policy to that of the markets and economics.
(Editor’s Note: Living in Los Angeles is a day-to-day experiment requiring patience and improvisational skills. So does governing this sprawling metropolis of 3.8 million people. The city’s next mayor, however, cannot be satisfied with merely coping with issues as they arise, but must be able to look forward and anticipate and define the city’s needs for the next four years. To this end we’ve asked writers to share their thoughts about what lies ahead – and around the corner – for Los Angeles.)
Going green may be all the rage. But get into the weeds and you may lose a few people. Take energy efficiency. Yes, it’ll save you money, create good jobs (if done right) and help us preserve the planet. But walk into a party and start talking about window caulking, attic insulation and compact fluorescent bulbs, and you may soon find yourself alone in a corner.
Turning over the calendar makes me think about nature. Partly, because it marks the end of one cycle of our lives and the beginning of another. Partly because at our house we literally take one calendar off the wall, look through its photographs of beautiful places, and replace it with a new one with its own photos of the world’s natural beauty that we will uncover one month at a time. The ritual reminds me that the earth is filled with beauty which we humans must sustain because it sustains us.
The problem, of course, is that in our drive for “progress” and “economic growth” we are drawing down too many resources too fast and making messes despoiling not only the earth’s beauty but also her capacity to keep us alive. Every day the news carries stories of waste, trash, unhealthy water, shrinking arctic ice and aberrant weather patterns.
The looming fiscal cliff has prompted renewed debate over the idea of a carbon tax – a way of putting a price on the carbon pollution that leads to climate change. Some say a carbon tax would raise funds that would create jobs and boost the American economy while helping to tackling climate change. Others warn it would give government too much control over the energy sector.
Here in California, we didn’t wait for the folks in Washington to make up their minds – we’re already implementing a carbon price. Our landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32, led to a successful first auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits that raised $290 million for the state in November. These funds will go to a variety of investments in energy efficiency, greener infrastructure, clean energy jobs, and other priorities that focus on making life better for all Californians.
With the rejection of Mitt Romney’s economic vision, wherein the invisible hand of the free market guides us to prosperity (at least those not in the lazy 47 percent), progressives are now on the spot to offer up a compelling alternative.
Using animation and the vocal talents of Ed Asner, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) jumps into the ring with the short video “It’s in Our Hands.” This is no ten-point plan, but instead a conceptual piece whose primary assertion is that we start to take the idea of democracy much more seriously when it comes to the economic order of things.
What if we could shape the U.S. economy to reflect the values and interests of most Americans? LAANE, which has had some success in doing just that, maintains that we can — and must.