After a long battle of words and millions of dollars spent on both sides, California voters defeated Proposition 23 in Tuesday’s election, which would have effectively put California’s climate law on hold.
Proposition 23 would have prevented California’s climate law AB 32 from being enacted until the state unemployment rate fell below 5.5 percent for four consecutive fiscal quarters, which is now hovering around 12 percent.
Opponents of the initiative raised more than $30 million to defeat it, which was three times as much as proponents, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Notable donors to the “No on 23” campaign in the last few weeks included Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and “Avatar” filmmaker James Cameron, reports Reuters.
Proposition 23 was largely funded by Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, which raised about $10 million.
The defeat of Proposition 23 is seen as a big victory for Silicon Valley investors, who spent millions of dollars defending California’s AB 32 law and protecting their investments in green technologies ranging from solar power to electric cars, reports Reuters.
It’s also viewed as a turning point for the U.S. in terms of whether the nation will back away from supporting stronger climate change laws or move toward stronger greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, according to the article.
Tuesday’s election of Jerry Brown as California governor also is viewed as another climate win. Brown supports a target of deriving 33 percent of California’s electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, reports Reuters.
Both ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA and the Apollo Alliance released statements supporting the defeat of Prop 23 in California.
“During a time of deep economic despair, AB 32 has been instrumental in generating new businesses, which have led to hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the clean energy industry,” stated ICLEI USA, executive director, Martin Chávez.
“AB 32 has proven to be one of the few bright economic lights in a grim era marked by declining revenue, steep budget cuts, and a stalled economy. Despite a stubborn 12.6 unemployment rate, Californians remain committed to the environment and they voted for clean energy as the path to a strong economic recovery and a healthier future,” he added.
“We are absolutely thrilled – and not surprised – that Californians said “no” to Big Oil’s Proposition 23,” stated Cathy Calfo, executive director for Apollo Alliance.
“The national Apollo Alliance is headquartered in the heart of San Francisco: we have seen firsthand what the clean energy economy can do for a state with unemployment hovering above 12%. As unemployment surged at the outset of the recession, jobs in California’s clean energy economy actually grew by five percent,” she added.