California and clean-tech jobs

Pew is out with a study measuring clean-energy jobs, businesses, patents and venture capital investments by state, and California ranks first on all fronts.  The study also concludes that the number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007.

While California’s number 1 ranking isn’t all that surprising given the state’s size and economic mix, it’s a sign that we’re doing at least some things right to attract and retain clean businesses and investments.  I attended a meeting yesterday in which California was derided as the BANANA state — standing for “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything,” and referring to the state’s reputation for being unfriendly to new business growth.  One of the messages of the meeting was that the city of Los Angeles, in particular, could and should do a much better job wooing clean tech businesses.  This work has begun already, with the high-profile formation of a Clean Tech LA partnership among UCLA, USC, CalTech, the Mayor’s office, and city business groups, and the related designation of a portion of downtown LA as a new “CleanTech manufacturing center.”  The Pew report should give this work a boost.

It will undoubtedly also be helpful to those pushing the green jobs – climate change connection (think Obama, Van Jones, and the California Air Resources Board).  The report itself states that

[p]olicies intended to advance the clean energy economy—from comprehensive energy plans, renewable energy standards and energy efficiency measures to the development of alternative fuels, job retraining and waste reduction efforts . . . have great potential because they create significant incentives for both the private and public sectors to develop new technologies, infrastructure and processes for clean energy, efficiency and conservation.

How is Pew defining the clean-energyeconomy?  It “counted actual jobs, companies and investments in every state and the District of Columbia aimed at developing clean, renewable sources of energy, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, and conserving water and other natural resources.”  More detail on which types of jobs made the list, and which didn’t, is at the report’s Appendix A (at p. 46 of the PDF linked above). 

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