By Laura Ipsen
In November 2010, voters in California — America’s largest state with 37 million residents — turned down Proposition 23, a ballot proposal to delay the historic 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. California’s law, which went into effect in January 2011, is the first comprehensive legislative effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Supporters of the California climate law came from all sectors of society and included some of the largest U.S. corporations that make their headquarters in California. Laura Ipsen, senior vice president and general manager at Cisco Systems Inc., a San Jose-based networking technology company with more than 72,000 employees worldwide and $40 billion in 2010 revenues, explains why her company supports the state’s climate efforts.
In October 2010, just a few weeks before the referendum that would determine the future of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, I outlined in a blog posting why our company stood behind the law and why we were publicly urging Californians to do the same. Proposition 23 would have rolled back California’s low carbon standard, the implementation of the world’s second largest cap-and-trade market, and rules requiring utilities to source 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.Those who supported the ballot measure said the state climate law would cost jobs and deepen the economic recession. We argued that it would do just the opposite.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Our state is known for innovation and for making sometimes difficult decisions that will pay off down the line. California knows how to invest in the future, and at Cisco we know we must do the same.
Since our state legislature passed the law, California has become a magnet for investments in renewable-energy and clean-energy jobs. Already by 2007, such industries supported 125,000 jobs in our state and that number reached 500,000 three years later, according to the California Employment Development Department.
Between 2005 and 2010, the state attracted more than $9 billion in clean-energy venture capital, nearly two-thirds of all such capital invested nationwide. It is no coincidence that, as of 2010, our state is home to five of the top 10 cities for attracting clean-tech startup companies, according to a report by SustainLane Government, a database of environmentally sustainable policies.
Such investments would have been threatened if Proposition 23 had passed and the climate law been stalled. It would have jeopardized California’s leadership in innovation and created uncertainty among businesses about the state’s commitment to building a green economy. It would also have threatened capital investments and put thousands of clean-tech jobs at risk.
GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, GOOD FOR BUSINESS
At Cisco, we see firsthand why climate policies can be good for business. Our Connected Grid technology, for example, helps power companies supply electricity in a more efficient way and consumers and businesses better control their power consumption. Our products and services are in demand because it is in utilities’ interest to cut expenses — but also because a number of them now have to change the way they do business under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and under carbon-fuel standards enacted by other states. We are also tapping into the rapidly growing market for renewable power, most recently by deploying a unified Cisco network for First Wind’s utility-scale wind farm in Utah.
When California voters turned down Proposition 23 with a 62-percent majority in 2010, they invested in the future of our state and in our nation. At Cisco, we were proud to be part of that effort.