Posted by: jamarquez | August 12, 2008

AB 32 and Green Collar Jobs

The popular California Assembly Bill 32 Global Warming Solutions Act, written by California Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez and Assembly Member Fran Pavley, has stirred up much interest for policy makers and community leaders throughout California. AB 32 requires that the state’s global warming emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, which will be implemented through an enforceable statewide cap on global warming emissions that will be phased in starting in 2012 (AB32 Fact Sheet of the Union of Concerned Scientists). Economists have predicted that reducing global warming emissions is expected to create jobs and wealth for the state’s economy, and the state’s top energy modelers found that 83,000 jobs and 4 billion dollars in income could be generated in California by meeting the state’s goals by 2020.

Why is this important in our region?

AB 32 can develop economic and labor force benefits to California (although it is important to acknowledge that AB 32 is primarily meant to be a global warming solutions policy, not an unemployment solution). According to the U.S. Census, there are 44,860 unemployed people in Sacramento and Yolo counties. Proper implementation of AB 32 can create jobs for our region as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Collaborations between trade organizations and labor development programs will play a big role in creating these new jobs in the green sector

What is being done in our region?

Los Rios Community College District is currently working with regional trade association and utility providers, such as SACTO, Sac Metro Chamber, and SMUD, to stimulate and create jobs in the clean energy and technology sector. Examples of programs and curriculum include:

  1. American River College (Roseville) : Solar Tech Certification program
  2. Sacramento City College (Sacramento): HVAC Building Certification program
  3. Consumes River College (El Dorado): Green Building and Design program
  4. Folsom Lake College (Folsom): Building Commissioning, Technologies program

Regionally these programs could provide talent development, educational and career opportunities, entry level jobs in the green sector, and provide economic security through service and manufacturing infrastructure.

Case study: Green For All

Throughout the Bay Area there are several organizations and partnerships working to create green jobs. Green For All in Oakland is part of a network of businesses, policy makers, community and nonprofit organizations and advocates “commitment to job creation and job training in a growing green economy,” specifically focusing on members of disadvantaged communities. Green For All has recently proclaimed its involvement and commitment to a green economy throughout the US by writing a pledge and asking that mayors across the country sign this pledge. The pledge demonstrates the mayors’ commitment to “focus on green-collar jobs as a central strategy of advancing environmental, economic, and climate protection goals.” The following cities and counties have signed on:

Anchorage, AK
Albuquerque, NM
Denver, CO
Austin, TX
Tutwiller, MS
Winstonville, MS
Des Moines, IA
Minneapolis, MN
Maywood, IL
Miami, FL
Coral Springs, FL
Albany, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Seattle, WA
King County, WA

Because AB 32 is specific to California and does not apply to all states across the U.S., the Green For All pledge could help ensure that green technologies and jobs become widespread.

Community and economic development

Los Rios Community College District and Green for All are working to make sure that the benefits of AB 32 go towards work force development. The work being done by Los Rios Community College District and Green For All is community development in that it helps provide job security for members of disadvantaged communities. Their work is also economic development, because members of these communities are training and working with in their communities. Furthermore the fiscal impact stays in the community. Los Rios Community College District is involved with labor development through its educational structure by providing vocational training in green technology.



  1. Ok, let me be a bit provocative here to start things off. If their goals are to be met, AB32 and other climate change initiatives are going to require enormous changes in CA planning and lifestyles. Developing green jobs is one piece of the puzzle, but there are many others. Strong state and regional planning will be essential. CA has been inching towards stronger regional planning with the Blueprints, but these are going to have to become much tougher and made binding upon local governments. All levels of government–state,regional, and local–are going to have to work together to greatly reduce driving (40% of CA emissions) and to promote alternative energy, conservation, population stabilization, and less consumptive lifestyles. This process will have many social equity implications, for example requiring that affordable housing is located near jobs in every community, and that the state tax structure is changed so as to reduce disparities between jurisdictions and end the fiscalization of land use.

    Do I think CA is up to this task currently? No. So that’s going to require us admitting that governance in this state is broken and rethinking it in fundamental ways. In the end we need to realize that issues of global or national concern (global warming, social justice, etc.) cannot be addressed adequately through piecemeal actions at the local level, and require a strong public sector hand at higher levels. Making this state and regional role democratic and participatory in better ways than at present is part of the challenge.

    Anyway, I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that for now. The main point is that dealing with climate change (among other issues) demands rethinking state and regional government in CA at a fundamental level.

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