“I have hope that this can happen and that we can be relentless.”
Linda Giannelli Pratt
Managing Director, Green Cities California
2050 – California’s population is nearing 60 million, a 60% increase in 35 years. In spite of that, the total carbon-based energy and water consumption is less than it was in 2015, and well-funded efforts are ongoing to reduce even more. The landscape of California has changed with retreating coastlines, less snow-covered mountains, and a very different growing cycle in the Central Valley and other agricultural regions of the state.
California continues to lead the nation with cutting edge businesses and business models, many of which focus on selling the service of products rather than selling the products alone, such as Interface Carpet.
New policies and innovations have offset many impacts from a changing climate. The environmental economists successfully made their point – building on the 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change – that early investment in climate mitigation and adaptation is the most cost effective approach.
How did we get to this vision of 2050? In my opinion, it was when the “kick the can down the road” attitude – so prevalent in the early part of the 21st century – finally ceased in 2015 when the courts and lawmakers agreed that intergenerational inequity is one of the most egregious of all environmental-justice issues. Realignment of budget priorities in both California and the nation were brought forward when an all-out “war” was declared on the terror of a changing climate.
Is my vision unfathomable? Not really. When looking at this from an economic perspective, The Stern Review estimates that if we act NOW, the annual costs of stabilization at 500-550ppm CO2e to be around 1% of GDP by 2050 – a level that is significant but manageable. A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund looking at Cap and Trade so far, supports the proposition that managing carbon is not killing California. Waiting to take action, when the ramifications of a changing climate have taken their toll on property and lives, increases each year with the growing stock of GHG emissions.
California already recognizes that this is the greatest environmental, economic, social and moral issue of our time. The challenge is urgent, and requires a cadre of new coalitions that include the insurance industry, credit raters, and the public and private sectors, as well as our educators, health care workers and faith communities. I have hope that this can happen and that we can be relentless.