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September 11, 2018

California governor aims for carbon-neutral state by 2045

California governor aims for carbon-neutral state by 2045

Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed an executive order Monday setting a new goal for the state to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2045.

Brown also signed a bill to make California’s electricity emission-free by 2045. Environmental group, the Sierra Club, commented: "it’s impossible to overstate how significant it is for a state as large and influential as California to commit to 100 percent clean energy.”

California has the highest state population in the US, accounting for 12% of the US population, and has consistently reached and beaten its clean-energy targets, consuming only 8% of the country’s electricity.

Climate change will have devastating effects in California. A report published last month, by California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, predicts that the state’s water supply is set to decline by two-thirds by 2050, and up to 67% of Southern California beaches may completely erode by 2100, if no action is taken to curb the pace of climate change.

Governor Brown is hosting a summit in San Francisco of climate change leaders later this week. By setting this ambitious goal, he has positioned California as a global leader in combatting climate change.

IZA author, Nico Pestel, writes: “A shift toward more renewable energy sources improves environmental quality by reducing emissions of ambient air pollutants, beneficial for health and labor productivity.” From a labor economics perspective however, the employment effects of green energy policies, “seem to cancel each other out, such that the overall net employment effect is rather limited.”

The positive effects of lower greenhouse gas emissions on worker productivity are clear however, as “evidence suggests that improvements in air quality lead to improvements in worker productivity across a range of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and the service sectors,” finds Matthew Neidell in his IZA World of Labor article.

Read more articles on environmental regulation and the labor market.