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Climate Change Resources in California

Climate change strategies for small business include conservation to save precious profits, and marketing strategies to meet new needs for more climate-friendly goods and services.

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Both California and the wider world are looking at climate change as an opportunity as well as a problem. There's business to be created... money to be made whenever there is change. And change, it is a'comin!

Yeah, yeah, yeah...
but what do we do about it?

Conserve . . .

According to the EPA's Energy Star Small Business program, small firms can save between 20% and 30% on their energy bills through off-the-shelf cost-effective efficiency upgrades. The job consists largely of installing the same few simple devices—programmable thermostats, for example—over and over again in millions of small business workplaces.

Innovate Best Practices . . .

International Best Practices & Innovations This section focuses on ways of improving air quality and curbing climate change through innovative policies and programs. These include international, national and local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and increase energy efficiency, and the effective use of transportation to alleviate air pollution.

Innovate New Business Strategies . . .

For example: Eliminate your carbon footprint with TerraPass TerraPass is the brainchild of Dr. Karl Ulrich at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with 41 of his students, Karl launched TerraPass in October, 2004 as a way to help everyday people reduce the climate impact of their driving. Within its first year, TerraPass registered over 2,400 members, reduced 36 million pounds of CO2, and earned countless national press and blog articles.

Scientists predict that a warming world is here. All of us, big businesses, small businesses, and consumers alike, are going to have to adjust. The small business community would do well to take up the challenge now, while there is time to deliberate and to craft cost-effective responses it can live with.

There's been virtually no research on what global warming means for small business, even though 23 million U.S. small businesses constitute one-half of the economy. We need to know more.

Extreme weather events, for example, can wipe out an entire region's small businesses in one fell swoop. And they can't readily bounce back from disruptions caused by natural disasters.

Reducing energy waste in U.S. homes, shops, offices, and other buildings will rely on thousands of small concerns in every state that design, make, sell, install, and service energy-efficient appliances, lighting products, heating, air-conditioning, and other equipment.

Inventing and installing technological fixes to curb greenhouse gas emissions must rely on small business innovators and entrepreneurs to produce "clean-tech" breakthroughs in photovoltaics, distributed energy, fiber-optic sensors, and the like.

California's recent reports on how to cope with climate change emphasizes the need for innovation -- and small business is the hotbed of innovation. Large corporations are better at dispersing it -- but innovation is facing a need and solving it. Kitchen sink, garage, or small lab -- individual creativity and persistence will make the difference in our society's struggle to change our way of living and working to be more in line with what our natural systems can tolerate.

We've overstepped our natural resources capacity to support local communities. Change is coming. Let's welcome it with creative determination and a shared sense of hope and self-discipline.

In England, Shell oil company has taken an aggressive approach to getting involved in the change from oil-based business to alternative energy. Along with investment directly in alternative energies, Shell has started the Shelk Springboard program to help small and medium size businesses copy, and grow, with climate change strategies.

The program demonstrates the commercial opportunity that tackling climate change offers to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Shell Springboard is a Shell awards program that encourages companies to see climate change as not only a major environmental challenge but a substantial business opportunity.

The research identifies major opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises in a wide range of markets, by both responding to consumer demand for environmentally friendly goods and to demands created by government action. The biggest identified markets for SMEs in 2010 will be:

  • Building regulations for commercial and industrial use - £950m
  • Renewable electricity - £800m
  • Renewable road transport fuels - £500m
  • Domestic energy efficiency - £400m
  • Building regulations for domestic use - £275m

The urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions offers opportunities to the nimble. There is now opportunity for a wide range of devices and services, which a decade ago would have made no economic sense, and for which there would have been no demand.

James Smith, Chair of Shell UK, added: “For business, tackling climate change is both a necessity and a huge opportunity. This creates a huge new opportunity for businesses nationally and internationally."

We can step up to the challenge through nimble, small businesses and the scientific depth in our universities can contribute.



The California Climate Change Portal

California Climate Change Center was formed in 2003 by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, the Center manages a robust research program with a dynamic community of California researchers from various scientific disciplines and a worldwide network of peers collaborating on climate change issues of interest to California. The Center manages a robust research program in accordance with the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Climate Change Research Plan.

The Center is organized into four branches:

  • Climate Monitoring, Analysis, and Modeling
  • Economic Impacts
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Competitive Research Grants

The Climate Change Center is organized as a “virtual” institution with sites at both the UC Berkeley campus and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (UC San Diego campus). The Berkeley Center, based at the Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy, is focusing on economic and policy analysis, while the Scripps Center focuses on physical climate modeling.

The Berkeley Center

The mission of the Berkeley Center is to advance the state-of-the-science regarding the potential regional impacts of climate change on California and its economy, ecology and society, and to investigate policies that California might adopt both to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and also to reduce California’s contribution by way of greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent reports:

Analyzing the expected impacts of climate change on California

Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in California.

California Applications Program: CAP

The California Applications Program (CAP) and the California Climate Change Center (CCCC) aim to develop and provide better climate information and forecasts for decision makers in California and the surrounding region. By working directly with users, CAP and CCCC are working to evaluate climate information needs and utility from the user perspective. CAP is funded by the NOAA Office of Global Programs and California Energy Commission

US Global Change Research Program

The California regional assessment examines current stresses and potential impacts of climate change and variability on the state with special focus on the following sectors: water systems (extensive discussion of systems and potential changes); natural resource and ecological systems (including biodiversity, nature's services, and ecosystem functions); economic, infrastructure, and social systems (including impacts on the built environment and key economic sectors); and implications for human health. The regional assessment also includes a review of climate science and the USGCRP process, the California economy and natural environment, and other elements. Coping and adaptation strategies, and further research priorities, are also included.

REPORT: Climate Change Impacts on the United States The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change.

Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

Who are the players? A variety of special working groups and centers have formed in California to discuss and coordinate regional responses to climate change. One such center is the Woods Institute for the Environment. It is helpful to look at who is involved in this top-level "think tank" to survey who's involved and what they are likely to do.

The California cimate Change Project at the Woods Institute has an extensive advisory council comprised of members who have extensive knowledge and expertise in climate challenges. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provided initial funding. Who are they?

California Climate Change Project Advisory Council

  • Adrienne Alvord, Principal Consultant, Office of Assembly Member Fran Pavley
  • Anne Baker, Deputy Secretary for External Affairs, California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Lisa Bicker, President, California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF)
  • Ralph Cavanagh, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Karen Douglas, Director, California Global Warming Initiatives, Environmental Defense
  • Ira Ehrenpreis, General Partner, Technology Partners
  • Michael Gelobter, Executive Director, Redefining Progress
  • T.J. Glauthier, President, TJG Energy Associates, LLC
  • Dian Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission
  • Catherine Hackney, Director, State Legislative Policy, Southern California Edison
  • Michael Hanemann, Director, California Climate Change Center UC Berkeley
  • Hal Harvey, Director, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Environment Program
  • Alan Lloyd, President, International Council on Clean Transportation
  • Jason Mark, California Director, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Robert Parkhurst, Global Environmental Program Manager, Hewlett Packard
  • Wendy Pulling, Director, Environmental Policy, Pacific Gas & Electric Company
  • Walter Reid, Director, Conservation and Science, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Art Rosenfeld, Commissioner, California Energy Commission
  • Linda Schuck, Director, California Climate Change Project, Woods Institute
  • Byron D. Sher, Emeritus Professor of Law, Stanford University
  • Dan Sperling, Director, Institute for Transportation Studies, UC Davis
  • Brian Sullivan, Manager, West Coast Government Affairs, BP
  • Barton H. Thompson, Director, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
The CCCP is part of a broader effort known as the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior which aims to address significant environmental challenges by engaging experts from a wide range of fields including behavioral and social sciences.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an international work program designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes. The MA was launched by U.N. Secretary- General Kofi Annan in June 2001 and was completed in March 2005.

It will help to meet assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species, as well as needs of other users in the private sector and civil society.

The MA focuses on ecosystem services (the benefits people obtain from ecosystems), how changes in ecosystem services have affected human wellbeing, how ecosystem changes may affect people in future decades, and response options that might be adopted at local, national, or global scales to improve ecosystem management and thereby contribute to human well-being and poverty alleviation.

The Response Options Working Group assessed the effectiveness of various types of response options, both historical and current, examining the strengths and weaknesses of various response options that have been used to manage ecosystem services. Their report also identifies some promising opportunities for improving human well-being while conserving ecosystems. The Responses Working Group determined that an effective set of responses to ensure the sustainable management of ecosystems requires substantial changes in institutions and governance, economic policies and incentives, social and behavior factors, technology, and knowledge. Prompt and effective actions in these areas, as described in the report, could substantially lessen the severity of ecosystem problems in the next several decades.

Reports of the findings are beginning to be released in 2006.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

For an overview of the 2006 scientific understanding and predictions regarding climate change, take a look a this well illustrated presentation by Dr. Terrence M. Joyce, Senior Scientist and Director of WHOI’s Ocean & Climate Change Institute -- Presented to the Aspen Institute, Washington, DC: US-India Strategic Dialogue, 17 June 2006

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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