Elevate CA: Socially responsible stimulus shows a greener way to growth

580 200 Ibrahim AlHusseini

(Photo Credit: California Wind Power/Wikimedia)

In our Elevate CA series, we've been highlighting voices seeking to reinvigorate the state's middle class and economy through new and innovative strategies. Ibrahim AlHusseini is founder and general partner at The Husseini Group and FullCycle Energy Fund, which invests in companies with the goal of turning solid waste into clean energy and fuel.

We must fight harder to restore economic and social equity to our cultures: the current distribution of wealth and resources is untenable. As a leader in sustainability and green energy, the state of California has a moral responsibility to push for continued progress and promote new ideas that can and will inspire change to other cities, states, and regions; continuing to develop the workforce for this sector is extremely important.

The Green New Deal, created by The Green Party, addresses both financial environmental issues and calls for an innovative new platform to address problems in both domains. This potential green revolution is not exclusive to either environmental or financial remedy, rather, it uses environmental and financial stimulus as a vehicle to address additional issues of class, gender disparity, and income inequality. Achieving more equitable societies requires engaging the disengaged, creation of jobs and development of renewable energy, and encouraging communities to become more sustainable.

One element of The Green New Deal is The Green Transition Program, designed to create a sustainable economy that is “environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially responsible.” This program focuses on the importance of impact investing, a type of investing I practice with my family fund, The Husseini Group. Husseini is committed to investments that generate both financial returns and environmental and social good.

But these investments cannot and should not be exclusive to professional, private investors alone. The program calls for the creation of grants and low-interest loans to spur development of small, locally-based companies that redistribute wealth or employment opportunities back into the local community. Another initiative proposed by the Green New Deal seeks to redirect research funds from wasteful, dead-end industries to wind, solar, and geothermal research. These changes will help the country move towards increased employment by providing 16 million jobs in sustainable energy, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Earlier this year, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) analyzed every legislative district and determined that more than 519,000 Californians now work in clean energy industries. Further, recent changes in California’s climate policy, including cap-and-trade legislation, has $45 billion in public or private investments that has been invested into the state’s economy. The cap-and-trade legislation reduces pollution while increasing energy efficiency. We must continue this trend.

The California Energy Commission closely tracks the progression of California’s renewable energy goals to reach 50 percent renewables by 2030. As of 2016, the state is on track to hit its target, having already generated 29 percent of its 33 percent goal by 2020. This is a result of growth in wind, solar, and geothermal energy industries that are estimated to continue to expand as legislatures continue to pass green regulations.

Environmental regulation does not lead to economic stagnation. Quite the opposite: California stands as a shining example of the fact that environmental regulation can and does lead to strong economic growth. With the right investments and regulations, we can stimulate the economy enough to generate more quality employment opportunities, restore some economic balance, and perhaps even lead to the return of a middle class. The Green New Deal has the potential to restore badly needed equilibrium in our economy, repair social divides, and most fundamentally, save our planet. It’s an obvious benefit to humanity. We cannot wait. There is an urgent call and it’s up to us to make it happen.

Elevate CA is a public conversation about how to life million of Californians into the middle class. The California Economic Summit plans to develop a public policy agenda at its meeting on November 2-3 in San Diego. To register, click here.


Ibrahim AlHusseini

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