Bay Area Council Blog: Energy and Climate Change Archive

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MAJOR NEW BAY AREA INNOVATION CENTER IN CHINA ANNOUNCED

The Bay Area Council this week joined leaders from the Chinese district of Gulou to announce the launch of an exciting new Bay Area Innovation Center in Nanjing. Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Dr. Micah Weinberg traveled to Nanjing to serve as a keynote speaker at the Golden Autumn Trade Festival where the new center was announced. The center will offer companies resources to access the region’s top tier talent and establish a bridge for startups to navigate between the Yangtze Delta region, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Discussions focused on Nanjing’s efforts to transition to an innovation economy through its connections with the Bay Area. With the help of the Economic Institute, as the leading think tank focusing on the key issues affecting the Bay Area economy, the Bay Area Innovation Center will serve as the platform connecting key resources such as training, services, capital and institutions to realize this vision. Over the past 10 years, the Bay Area Council has published seminal reports explaining the components of how our innovation ecosystem works at a global scale, and worked to guide Chinese investors looking to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. To learn about the Economic Institute’s upcoming report on Chinese Innovation or to get involved with Council’s China Initiative, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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KEY CHINA PARTNER HONORED AS RISING INNOVATION STAR

A rising star in China’s fast-emerging technology and innovation sector that the Bay Area Council has been partnering with since our entry into the country 10 years ago has earned high praise from the country’s leadership. The Yangpu District of Shanghai has been named one of just three venues for China’s annual Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week conference in September. The Council is helping organize a delegation to participate in a Sino-US Incubator Green Innovation Forum on September 18 as part of the conference, which will be presided over by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Yangpu’s hosting of the conference comes on top of its designation as a “National Pilot Innovation District” in 2010 and an “Entrepreneur and Innovation Model Base” in 2016. The Green Innovation Forum will be attended by Chinese government leaders and local enterprises from Yangpu, Shanghai and the Bay Area, including various incubators and accelerators, and emerging and successful business leaders. To join the Council’s delegation and to learn more about our work to expand economic opportunities in China for Bay Area companies, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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Sen. Monning Addresses Water Committee on Clean Water Fund

It’s estimated that as many as one million Californians (10 times the population of Flint, Michigan) lack access to safe, clean drinking water, mostly in rural, economically disadvantaged areas. This troubling statistic undergirded the Bay Area Council Water Committee’s conversation with Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) hosted by member company Cargill on Tuesday (July 25). Senator Monning’s bill, SB 623, would create a new clean drinking water fund capitalized through a combination of new fertilizer taxes and fees on water utility bills. The Council took the issue under advisement until the precise bill language becomes available. The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Water Resources’ Erin Mellon on the race against time to repair the Oroville Dam Spillway, which was destroyed during last years’ record rainfall. To engage with the Council’s Water Committee, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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Historic Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

Following years of hard work and advocacy, the Bay Area Council today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.

“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”

The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project. Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Major Victory for California’s Clean Energy Future

This week marked a major victory for Governor Jerry Brown and California’s clean energy future with the legislature’s bipartisan passage of a landmark package – AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) – to combat air pollution in neighborhoods and extend California’s signature cap-and-trade program to meet ambitious climate change goals. The Bay Area Council was part of a broad and diverse coalition in support of the legislation.

The Council has long supported California’s global leadership on a sustainable clean energy future. “As the first business group to support AB32 and cap-and-trade, the Bay Area Council believes the program has worked exceptionally well,” said Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman. “California has shown that it’s possible to reduce carbon, improve local air quality, spur new clean energy industries and jobs, and have an economy that’s the envy of the nation. The extension of cap-and-trade until 2030 will keep California on track for its climate goals and its clean energy leadership.”

To engage in the Council’s energy policy work, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Cunningham.

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Statement: Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

MILLBRAE, CA— Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.  The Bay Area Council released the following statement attributable to Jim Wunderman.
“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”
The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project.
Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.

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Next Steps for Businesses in the California-China Clean Energy Partnership

This week, the Council reunited participants of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent Clean Energy delegation to Beijing, China to discuss next steps. California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols recounted her experiences in China and, building on the momentum of four California-China agreements signed during the trip, as well as described California’s climate change progress through Council-supported cap-and-trade AB 398 and air contaminant-reducing AB 617. Nichols also highlighted the recently announced Climate Action Summit, which will be held in San Francisco in September 2018.

Discussing opportunities for technology transfers, private-public-partnerships, and investment in China in the backdrop of IP risks, Ken Alston (California Clean Energy Fund) and Arthur Haubenstock (8minutenergy Renewables) conclusively indicated latent opportunities for business collaborations within the clean energy sphere.

The event concluded with a presentation from Special Advisor to the Governor, Fan Dai, who spoke to the unique California-China relationship. Her remarks shared efforts underway to create a database that identifies the Chinese technology-gaps California businesses can fill, and opportunities regarding China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Identifying and pushing for business opportunities for California is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide businesses and investors looking to expand in the Bay Area and abroad. To lean how the Council can help businesses find opportunities in China, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.

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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.