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Verde Laguna: A view from outside the country

January 06, 2011|By Gustavo Grad

Traveling outside the U.S. for the last two weeks, I had the chance to flip last year news trying to find a different perspective for the forces playing in our world today. Year end is always a time for review of what happened, to understand what is going on as the basis for designing a better tomorrow. Everything starts by recognizing year ups and downs.

Talking about the environment, one down moment last year occurred when the Senate failed to debate the Clean Energy & Climate Act, a bill the House passed in 2009 that aims to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 1990 levels by 2020, an act which—despite the flaws—was a comprehensive layout for the implementation of strong energy and climate measures. The odds for the next Congress to reconsider these measures are close to zero. The good news happened in California, when against the political tide around the country voters by rejected Proposition 23 and saved AB 32, California's landmark anti-global warming law—the first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanism to achieve real, quantifiable, cost effective reduction of GHG.

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Yet another low note was one more missed opportunity to control the state's deficit. The Legislative Analyst's Office, California's non-partisan fiscal and policy advisor, forecast a state budget problem of $25.4 billion between now and the time the legislature enacts the 2011-2012 budget plan. However, despite the severe recession we experienced the last two years, with a gross domestic product of $1.9 trillion in 2009 California is still the largest state economy in the U.S., well ahead of number two Texas with a GDP of $1.1 trillion. (Source "Report for Continuing Study of California Economy")

A continuing negative, the Bureau of Statistics reported 12.4% unemployment for the month of November for California. The lack of job creation remains a hurdle for the economy as a whole, but new data shows that green business has increased from 1995 to 2008 and that, while the economy slowed between 2007 and 2008, green jobs grew by 5%. (Source "Next 10")

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