US, California double down on climate change, energy security via new initiatives

February 11, 2015 |

obama-ethanolObama unveils Clean Energy Investment Initiative; California lawmakers introduce a trio of bills aimed at 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

In Washington, the Obama Administration launched its Clean Energy Investment Initiative, with a goal to catalyze $2 billion of expanded private sector investment in solutions to climate change, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.

The Administration said that the U.S. Department of Energy will lead an effort to identify opportunities to leverage its world-class technical expertise, technologies, and programs to assist in understanding opportunities and needs that drive clean energy innovation – with a focus on mission-oriented investors seeking climate and environmental impact.  DOE will work to mobilize a broad range of philanthropists and impact investors to scale up investments throughout the energy innovation pipeline, from laboratory R&D to startup funding to growth-stage financing – supporting the kind of technology innovation that the ARPA-E Summit, where this initiative was announced, is all about.

The Clean Energy Investment Summit

To kick off this call to action, the White House said it will host a Clean Energy Investment Summit later this spring, as a forum for foundations, family offices, and institutional investors to scale up private sector investment in clean energy innovation.

At the same time, the Administration highlighted The University of California Board of Regents’ commitment to allocate at least $1 billion of its endowment and pension over five years for investments in solutions to climate change by developing an innovation pipline to partner with philanthropists interested in de-risking early-stage technologies with high climate related impact potential. The UC proposal targets for-profit investments in technologies with the potential to deliver both significant climate change mitigation and high investment returns — and will create a follow-on facility that will offer proven technologies and companies an “on ramp” to commercial scale.  The Office of the Chief Investment Officer will engage with foundations, family offices, and institutional investors to strengthen this long-term innovation pipeline.

The Administration also highlighted: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who will work to connect investors with early-stage clean energy companies, so that a growing number of foundations and other mission-driven organizations can efficiently and effectively finance innovative technologies with high impact potential; The Schmidt Family Foundation for allocating a significant portion of its assets to impact investing, with the aim of filling market gaps to finance solutions that mitigate climate change; and Wells Fargo for its commitment of $100 million in environmental grants by 2020 to accelerate the transition to a greener economy, including a $10 million Innovation Incubator (IN2) program to foster the development of early-stage energy efficiency technologies for commercial buildings.

More on the initiative here.

rp_california_seal_192x192.jpgCalifornia bills aim to bolster clean energy mandates, find economic benefits

Meanwhile in California, legislators introduced a package of four bills that, among other goals, target a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by cars and trucks by 2030, and set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent in 2050, compared to 1990.

The four bills are:

Senate Bill 350, introduced by Sen. Kevin de León, (D-Los Angeles), and Sen. Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco), requires a 50 percent renewable target for utilities by 2030, result in a 50 percent increase in energy efficeincy by 2030 in existing buildings, and would set a 50 percent petroleum reduction taregt for road transport by 2030.

Senate Bill 350, introduced also by de León would mandate that the California pension funds divest all holdings in companies that dervive half of their revemues or more from coal mining or coal burning technology.

Senate Bill 32, introduced by  Sen. Fran Pavley, (D-Agoura Hills) would set into a law a requirement of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050, 80 percent compared to 1990 levels. The 80 percent figure is currently a goal, by not a legislative mandate.

Senate Bill 189, introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), aims to appoint a 7-person advisory community to advise the Legislature on climate change-fighting measures that would also create Califirnia jobs and economic benefits to the state.

Would establish a seven-member expert committee to advise the Legislature on clean energy and climate policies that could create jobs and spread economic benefits to all levels of society.

The San Jose Mercury-News observed that “There appears to be a strong chance the legislation will pass this session.”

Here’s more on that story.

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