Opinion: For California, fighting climate change is good for the environment and the economy

A Nissan Leaf is plugged into an electric-vehicle charging station at the Malibu Country Mart.
A Nissan Leaf is plugged into an electric-vehicle charging station at the Malibu Country Mart.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Since the passage of ambitious climate legislation 10 years ago requiring greenhouse gas cuts, California’s economy has grown robustly while carbon dioxide emissions have decreased. In defeating Proposition 23 in 2010, California voters further revealed that, in their view, the benefits of taking responsibility for our emissions outweighed the costs. (“California’s climate fight could be painful — especially on job and income growth,” Dec. 11)

The Times’ article fails to recognize the resulting clean technology innovations and job creation, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, that are now signature features of California’s economy. More importantly, it fails to recognize that the state has adopted measures to financially protect moderate- and lower-income consumers during the transition to a cleaner economy.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation calculated that Californians could find hundreds of dollars extra in their pockets because of climate credits that directly reduce electricity bills and other measures that help households lower expenditures on electricity, natural gas and gasoline.

J.R. DeShazo, Los Angeles


The writer, a professor of public policy at UCLA, is director of the university’s Luskin Center for Innovation.


To the editor: Your article on the implementation of California’s world-class climate change policies completely ignores statutes put in place that require extensive study and review of impacts on jobs, the state’s economy, the departure of businesses to other states and numerous other economic factors before the adoption of any regulations. 

The critics of California’s emissions reduction efforts cited in the article made the same arguments when we first started these programs a decade ago, and they have been proved wrong ever since. California’s economy has grown into the sixth largest in the world and has created a thriving clean-energy sector that has sped up innovation and job creation. 


California leads with vision in the energy sector, so it is disappointing your readers have to settle with reporting that is so shortsighted. 

Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)

The writer is president pro tempore of the California Senate.


To the editor: Congratulations to The Times for this stellar report. This information on the economic costs of California’s aggressive effort to fight climate change is long overdue. 

I’ve been dismayed to read about the stringent greenhouse gas emissions reduction legislation signed into law this summer. These bills appear to have passed with virtually no discussion or understanding on the part of the parties involved of the severe costs this will entail to our businesses and consumers, Gov. Jerry Brown’s reassurances notwithstanding. 

In my view, California is sacrificing itself on the altar of a vainglorious belief that we will provide some kind of moral leadership despite the fact that our actions will affect global temperatures to an almost meaningless extent. Meanwhile, we will drive businesses out of the state and hurt our own people. 

Deborah R. Castleman, Santa Monica



To the editor: Contrary to your article, the negative effects of fighting climate change would be largely eliminated if California were to adopt a carbon fee and dividend approach. This regime has been in effect in British Columbia and was proposed for the state of Washington in the last election.

Research has shown that a revenue-neutral carbon tax, in which all funds collected on fossil fuels are returned to each citizen equally, would improve the finances of a large majority of families and would be an engine for economic growth in many sectors. 

If the federal government won’t do it, California should.

Dennis Thompson, Santa Barbara

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