Bay Area Council Blog: Energy and Climate Change Archive

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International Competition for Bay Resilience off to Huge Start

Last month, the Bay Area Council joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. In response, the Resilient by Design/Bay Area Challenge has received an amazing 51 applications from local, national and international teams competing to become one of ten finalists chosen to design innovative projects aimed at improving the health and resilience of Bay Area communities. The final teams will be chosen in the coming weeks, with the designs themselves to be unveiled May 2018. Resilient by Design is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a spinoff of the successful Rebuild by Design efforts following Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to help communities become resilient before a natural disaster strikes, rather than after. Rockefeller considered many other regions to award to the Resilient by Design Competition, but chose the Bay Area following the 2016 passage of Measure AA, a Bay Area Council-supported ballot measure that creates $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and bay flood protection projects. To learn more about Resilient by Design, please contact Bay Area Council Vice President of Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert

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Bay Area Balance: Preserving Open Space, Addressing Housing Affordability

Failure to produce housing in the Bay Area’s urban core and near transit represents a serious threat to the region’s open space, according to a new study released yesterday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that makes the economic case for preserving natural and working lands and identifies opportunities for responsible development in the region.

Despite the vast opportunity and need – let alone a requirement by law to help meet California’s ambitious GHG reduction targets – the Bay Area has made glacial progress realizing only 57% of the full potential for infill housing development of its urban core. Inability to build housing in the region’s core is forcing development further away from job centers, jeopardizing valuable open space and undermining state climate change goals. The analysis estimates the Bay Area greenbelt’s value to be as high as $14 billion per year – with direct and indirect benefits stemming from food, recreation, clean air, natural resources and protection against sea level rise.

“Building more housing and protecting open space are not mutually exclusive,” says Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Micah Weinberg. “We need to develop responsibly and actually fulfill state-mandated requirements to build within Priority Development Areas, meeting transit-oriented, infill housing goals. Smart growth will spare our open space and keep the Bay Area economically resilient, sustainable and equitable.”

Read Bay Area Balance: Preserving Open Space, Addressing Housing Affordability>>

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Real Reasons to Embrace Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are undeniably cool, but, in their meeting with industry experts from Waymo (Google), Zoox, and Lyft, Bay Area Council Transportation Committee members learned that the real reasons to applaud the development of autonomous vehicles are safety, mobility, and sustainability. Over 35,000 people died in automobile accidents in 2015; 95 percent due to human error; and, after decades of declines, the number of fatalities is rising at 7 percent per year. Fully autonomous vehicles, with no human interaction ever required, are probably the safest solution, and they’re also the solution that will offer mobility to people (blind or disabled, for example) that can’t safely drive themselves.

Our industry experts and Committee members also considered how autonomous vehicles will be owned and used, and concluded that the most likely scenario is that households will choose to reduce their transportation costs by reducing or eliminating vehicle ownership, and instead turning to on-demand transportation services from fleet operators. The Council will continue its efforts to create a clear and hospitable legal environment in California for autonomous vehicle development. To participate, contact Michael Cunningham.

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Council Builds on Momentum to Attract Chinese Investment to California

Building on a successful trip with Governor Jerry Brown to China and the Select California Investment Summit in Sacramento, the Bay Area Council’s China team traveled to Washington D.C. this week to represent California with other Economic Development Organizations at the national SelectUSA Investment Summit. The event gathered over 3000 companies from 64 countries around the world to promote foreign direct investment in the United States.  Secretaries from the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Labor offered remarks alongside multinational corporations such as Samsung, General Motors and BCG. China represented the largest proportion of delegates as investors’ interest in the United States continues to grow. In 2016 alone, the United States was the largest recipient of Chinese outbound FDI, totaling $45.6 billion, and nearly one-third of this investment went to California. Attracting foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide Chinese and other investors as they look to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. To learn how the Council can help foreign investors find opportunities in California, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Council Works to Bring Chinese Clean Energy Investment to CA

Fresh from our successful trip with Governor Jerry Brown to China to promote climate change partnership, the Bay Area Council this week joined a first-ever summit to bring billions of dollars in Chinese clean energy investments to California. Organized by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development in partnership with the California-China Trade Network, the Select California Investment Summit in Sacramento included 22 Chinese investors seeking opportunities in clean tech, water innovation, sustainable development, zero emission vehicles, and more. Attracting foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide Chinese and other investors as they look to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. Chinese investment represents a huge opportunity for California, which from 2000-2016 secured 415 investment deals valued at $25.5 billion from mainland China investors. Statewide, global investment in California employs 631,500 workers. To learn how the Council can help foreign investors find opportunities in California, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Council Agenda Gets Receptive Ear in D.C.

Transportation, housing, trade and healthcare were among the issues a Bay Area Council-led business delegation discussed this week in Washington, D.C., with top Congressional and White House leaders. Led by Council Chair Michael Covarrubias (Chairman and CEO, TMG Partners) and Council CEO Jim Wunderman, the delegation met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, among many other legislators, cabinet and administration officials.

Delegates highlighted the importance of investment in transportation, particularly as it relates to future Northern California megaregion planning. As a growing economy blurs historic Bay Area, Sacramento and San Joaquin regional boundaries, the Bay Area Council is taking action now to address the future transportation, housing and workforce needs of the emerging megaregion. Much of the immediate focus and a major topic in meetings this week was investing to expand megaregion rail capacity, including securing federal transportation dollars for the Amtrak Capitol Corridor service and the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE Train).

The Council shared a sneak peek at new research by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute that shows the strong and growing connections between Silicon Valley and other parts of the country and how those connections can be leveraged to expand knowledge-based economic opportunities and grow jobs nationwide. The Council also advocated for free and open global trade and immigration policies. Special thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Oracle, and Alaska Airlines. To learn more about the Council’s federal policy agenda, please contact Senior Advisor George Broder.

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COUNCIL CHINA CLEAN ENERGY DELEGATION WITNESS TO HISTORY

The Bay Area Council’s delegation of business leaders accompanying Gov. Jerry Brown this week to Beijing, China, for a global conference on climate change were witness to history as the Governor enjoyed a rare meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed several key agreements on clean energy and climate change cooperation. The trip, which was led by Council CEO Jim Wunderman, took on added significance with President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate change accord, a move which elevated California’s global leadership on clean energy and efforts to address climate change. Council delegates enjoyed dinner with Gov. Brown following his meeting with President Xi.

Also during the trip, the Council delegation met with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss the important role of California’s national research labs, including Berkeley National Lab and Lawrence Livermore Lab, in advancing clean energy technology. Perry called California’s labs “crown jewels.”

The Council joined Gov. Brown as he signed an agreement establishing a new California-Beijing Clean Technology and Innovation Partnership and launching a new fund to support it. And later, our delegates attended a forum at renowned Tsinghua University with Gov. Brown and participated in a discussion with China’s lead negotiator on climate change issues. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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BAY AREA COUNCIL LEADS DELEGATION ACCOMPANYING GOV. JERRY BROWN TO CHINA FOR GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT

On Monday, June 5, the Bay Area Council will lead a high-level business delegation to Beijing, China, to accompany Gov. Jerry Brown for an annual meeting of the world’s top energy ministers and to strengthen ties between China, California and the Bay Area on clean energy and other economic opportunities. The trip takes on added significance coming on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision on Thursday (June 1) to withdraw the U.S. from a major international climate change accord around which the China meetings are centered.

“The Bay Area and California are charging ahead to strengthen our growing partnership with China on expanding the use of clean energy and developing exciting new clean energy technologies,” said Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council President and CEO. “Under Gov. Brown’s bold leadership, California has become a global beacon for addressing climate change and leveraging the power of economic innovation to develop the clean energy technologies that are critical to reducing carbon emissions. California and China have much to share and much to gain from working together to advance our clean energy and clean technology objectives. This trip will be significant in highlighting the importance of cooperation and partnership among regions, states and nations in addressing the threats of climate change.”

The Clean Energy Ministerial 8 (CEM8) gathering from June 6-8 brings together energy ministers from the world’s top 23 economies and the European Union to discuss implementing the historic 2015 U.N. Convention of Parties climate change agreement (COP21) from which President Trump decided to withdraw U.S. participation. The Bay Area Council played a leading role last year in organizing and hosting CEM7 in San Francisco.

Detailed agenda and delegate information on the Bay Area Council CEM8 trip>>

As part of CEM8, the Bay Area Council delegation will join Gov. Brown and other state leaders for a forum on June 7 of the Under 2 Coalition, which represents 170 cities, states and countries from six continents that have signed on to the Under 2 MOU committing to actions that will limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. California and Gov. Brown have been instrumental in the creation and expansion of the Under 2 Coalition. And the June 7 “Under2 Clean Energy Forum” expands on the event Governor Brown launched last year in San Francisco to highlight regional clean energy and climate action and collaboration, in conjunction with CEM7.

Through its three offices in China, the Council for more than 10 years has served an important role in facilitating California’s growing relationship with China on clean energy, including helping organize Gov. Brown’s 2013 trade and investment mission when he signed another landmark climate change agreement with that country’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

Read the Council’s statement on President Trump’s Paris accord decision>>

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BAY AREA COUNCIL HELPS LAUNCH INTERNATIONAL RESILIENT BY DESIGN COMPETITION

The Bay Area Council on Wednesday (May 31) joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is a collaborative research and design initiative that brings together local, national, and international design experts with community members and local leaders.

The competition is largely funded through a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, and is based off of the successful Rebuild by Design contest in New York-New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. In his comments at the announcement, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sam Carter credited the region’s passage of Measure AA, last year’s Bay Area Council-backed $12 parcel tax to fund Bay resiliency projects, for the Foundation’s decision to choose the Bay Area over other competing regions in the U.S. For more information, please contact Vice President of Public Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert.

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Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Withdraw U.S. from Paris Climate Accord

The Bay Area Council today (June 1) issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawing the United States from the landmark 2015 U.N. Convention of Parties climate change agreement (COP21). The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on clean energy and was the first major business group to endorse the historic California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. In 2016, the Council hosted energy ministers from the world’s largest 23 economies and the European Union for the Clean Energy Ministerial 7 (CEM7) in San Francisco—a follow-up to the COP21 talks—and next week is leading a delegation to Beijing for CEM8 along with Governor Jerry Brown.

“California and the Bay Area remain on an irreversible course forward to lead the world into a sustainable clean energy future,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative and an economic opportunity. California’s ambitious assault on climate change has spawned a vibrant and fast-growing clean technology industry that is creating new jobs, attracting investment and new businesses and producing innovative new products. It has also given us a strong competitive advantage in a sector we believe will continue to grow and thrive as more and more companies embrace a clean energy future.”

The Bay Area Council is working on a variety of initiatives focused on addressing the climate change challenge, including:

  • Promoting urban infill and transit-oriented housing development that reduces long, polluting commutes
  • Building stronger connections with China and other countries to expand the development and use of clean energy technologies
  • Championing investment in the expansion and modernization of mass transit systems, including BART, ferries and Caltrain
  • Leading an innovative regional effort to restore wetlands and build infrastructure to protect against the threat of rising seas and extreme storms
  • Advocating for investment and policies that support the creation of a new, modern energy grid to better integrate and manage growing renewable energy sources
  • Modernizing and expanding our water storage and delivery system to prepare for future droughts
  • Supporting business in adopting corporate renewable energy goals and strategies
  • Advancing the deployment and adoption of electric and other zero emission vehicles