Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro

California global warming solution: Additional item for a $1 or $100?

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Aug. 1, 2008

Ask a person if he/she is willing to pay more for something and they'll immediately ponder the item's importance and how much "more" means.

A dollar for an extra food item at Panda Express?  Sure.   A dollar extra at a retail store for a hungry children's charity?  Of course.   $25 more per gas tank fill-up for your own freedom and mobility?  Oh I suppose. 

These are the specific types of questions that should be asked of Californians as we make California-only global warming reduction regulations that will affect us all deeply.  An extra dollar a day on an electricity bill to build the transmission needed to get renewable power to all corners of the State?  An extra $10 a month in a mortgage for carbon-kind building material?   An extra $2,000 on your vehicle for a low-carbon emission engine?  Or worse yet, the loss of a job because a company can compete much better in another State?

If California is to meet its greenhouse gas goals, consumers must know -- and accept -- what exactly they are paying for and what it costs.

Two recent public items, among many, contribute to the notion that the public has accepted the real costs of AB 32.  Absent, vague or minimal mentions of consumer costs lead everyone to believe that we can land at California's ambitious carbon reduction goals and an unaffected or even bolstered economy with little or no impact on our lives.  Here's two examples:

1.  PPIC's environmental poll: Californians and the Environment.
The poll released today states that half of Californians think global warming is a very serious threat and more than half think the State should do something about it "right now".  Within the global warming portion of the environmental poll, there was only one question that loosely addressed the actual costs. It asked if they thought we would have to make "major sacrifices" to implement the law.  There was no mention of what those sacrifices (or costs) would be or who would pay them.   I read through the poll and there was literally nothing that indicated the affects on one's personal budget.

I went to a focus group about a year ago.  Twelve people were asked if they thought global warming was a problem and if California should do something about it.  Eleven said yes.  When asked if they would pay extra at the gas pump while all other states did not, only ONE said he would. 

2.  Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group in the SF Chronicle on AB 32: Warming to global warming solutions
Mr. Guardino's opinion piece outlined last week how positive AB 32 is for our environment, economy and the Silicon Valley itself.  It does not however mention the word "costs" once in the entire article.  Mr. Guardino's focus on the economy within the context of AB 32 is appropriately directed, because the economy must succeed if we are to keep emissions (and their reductions) in California.  But we need a complete and realistic picture of AB 32's true costs and quality of life impacts.  This is not an easy or quick task, but it is absolutely crucial if we are to predict the economic success or, more importantly, make the the actual regulations cost effective, as the bill states we must do.

Just as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) can't accurately project AB 32's true costs without including complete, objective data and real-time financial impacts, the citizen can't make an informed decision about the acceptability of those impacts in their budgets or their lives.  CARB is working diligently on research and data to tell us whether each additional item will be closer to $1 or $100.  Until then, we should wait on the public's approval and our own predictions on the California-only life-changing undertaking.

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