When I do business in China, I am amazed by the respect our state's businesses receive because of our leadership in the fast-growing clean technology sector. The Chinese -- like the rest of the world -- rightfully view our state as a world leader in the emerging market of clean technology and environmental innovation.
But California's clean tech advantage is being put at risk. Texas oil companies are bankrolling a measure for the November ballot that would essentially kill AB 32, our state's roadmap to a clean energy future.
It's clear why Texas oil companies would oppose our state's effort to wean itself from dirty fossil fuels: it will hurt their bottom line. But Californians shouldn't fall for deception behind this proposition. Instead, they should look at the positive job-creation benefits of our state's transition to a clean energy economy.
There is little doubt that our state's leadership in environmental policy is a job creator. Between 1995 and 2008, California's "clean tech" businesses increased 45 percent in number and 36 percent in employment, according to NextTen, a nonpartisan think tank. The Silicon Valley-based Collaborative Economics group says California now has more than 3,000 clean tech businesses. According to a study released by the California Employment Development Department last week, 500,000 employees work in clean technology jobs. Those are impressive numbers.
On top of that, the Golden State's emerging clean-energy economy has attracted nearly $6.5 billion in capital investment in the last three years, says the National Venture Capital Association (which announced its opposition to the dirty energy proposition two weeks ago). In 2009 alone, California-based companies received almost 60 percent of all clean-tech investments in the United States, with a record $3.3 billion in 111 separate ventures. Five of the nation's top 10 cities for clean tech investment are in the Golden State, according to a recent New York Times article, as are seven of the nation's top 10 clean tech businesses.
This growth is just the beginning of the economic boom that California's landmark clean energy law is bringing to our state. A UC Berkeley study estimates it will generate another 112,000 jobs by 2020. The California Air Resources Board foresees increased economic production of $33 billion as a result of the law, as well as increased overall gross state product of $7 billion and increased personal income of $16 billion.
In addition to these new ventures, many California small businesses are diversifying their product lines to tap into this growing marketplace. My business is a perfect example.
When we first started looking at expanding our lighting source operations, we found that it wasn't how to make the best light bulb that mattered, but how to control its energy consumption. We concluded that motion sensors were the next wave of low-carbon-emitting light sourcing, and have broadened our product line to become one of the leading companies in our state in the fast-growing energy-efficient lighting market.
California's economy has taken plenty of hits during the past several years, and we can't afford to lose the advantage we have in the clean tech marketplace. Let's not fall for the Texas-sized deception behind the move to kill our state's clean air and clean energy standards.
***Margaret Wong is based in Sacramento and is President of McWong International Inc., a global leader in the design and manufacture of ballasts and related electrical components for the lighting industry.