California could be the first major economy in the world to abandon fossil fuels as its primary energy source. California’s strategic energy policies foster an economic climate which generates funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency and innovative technology. In particular, proceeds from the state’s cap and trade auctions, mandates on utilities and the attraction of venture capital are funding renewable energy generation, energy efficiency
measures in our buildings, and the implementation of clean transportation programs. As a result, we are in an era of exceptional economic opportunities for cities and local governments.
Although California leads the nation in energy efficiency and renewable energy, California cities lead the nation in the need to reduce traffic and air pollution. California cities top the American Lung Association’s list of the most polluted cities by year round particle pollution. According to a recent study, California cities lead the nation in early deaths due to air pollution. Along with Honolulu, two California cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, lead the nation in traffic congestion. Traffic is not only a health and environmental problem, but it is a drag on economic productivity. Through transformation to a clean energy economy, California cities can develop solutions for air pollution and traffic congestion.
The transformation to a clean energy economy is occurring through: (1) building optimization; (2) renewable power generation; and (3) clean transportation. Although energy policies and laws are essential to effect change, it is the development of new technologies and competitive market forces that are leading the transformation to a clean energy economy. As new technologies are exploited, market forces gain momentum that will inevitably transform energy generation and consumption.