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My Turn: Clean Power Plan helps drive innovation

Last modified: 8/26/2015 12:37:01 AM
We’re likely to hear a lot more in the near future about the economic peril presented by the Clean Power Plan. Much of it will be nonsense.

Tackling climate change has been an economic driver for businesses and investors throughout New England. Earlier in August, the Environmental Protection Agency released the final version of the Clean Power Plan, a groundbreaking approach to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants – the single largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States. Power plants account for 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

The Clean Power Plan provides an opportunity for New Hampshire businesses and investors to continue to innovate and build a clean energy economy that creates jobs and economic growth.

As members of the investment community, we see the trend toward a clean economy as an investment opportunity. That is why Pax World Management LLC has joined nearly 50 investors managing $800 billion in assets in supporting the creation of these proposed regulations and calling on states like New Hampshire to continue to work with the EPA to reduce carbon emissions.

The Clean Power Plan is the first national comprehensive effort to reduce carbon pollution, the leading cause of climate change. By tackling climate change, we are addressing a major risk to the economy and to the investments of individuals and institutions around the country. Increased frequency of severe storms, sea level rise, floods and warmer temperatures are just some of the changes that will affect all aspects of the supply chain. Moreover, we are avoiding the cost of inaction, which will likely be in the trillions of dollars by the end of the century in a business-as-usual scenario.

The Clean Power Plan is not just about reducing risks. It is also about creating economic opportunities. The proposed carbon pollution standards will help states scale up solutions we already know work to lower emissions, and that helps the economy and creates jobs. Already, there are twice as many workers in solar power as there are coal miners.

Each state will tailor its plan to the policies, industries and practices unique to it. New Hampshire is already on target to tackle climate change and invest in renewable energy. In 2007, the state passed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, and in 2005 New Hampshire joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RGGI and the RPS have helped to create jobs, spur innovation and attract investments. With the increased development of solar, wind and biomass energy, we are on the path toward reaching the goal of 24.8 percent of all energy produced from renewable sources by 2025.

New Hampshire businesses like Stonyfield, Timberland, SustainX and Worthen Industries are addressing climate change, while increasing revenues. And by the way, while there are many things that make New Hampshire unique, that’s not one of them. The Carbon Disclosure project reports that an index of companies considered leaders in addressing climate risks and opportunities outperformed the Bloomberg World Index between 2010 and 2014. These businesses show investors and policymakers that we can grow the economy and reduce emissions. The Clean Power Plan will provide additional certainty for companies and investors and offer clear market signals that the United States is committed to lowering emissions.

Thankfully, the Clean Power Plan recognizes all of the successes states, businesses and households around the country have already achieved in reducing carbon emissions. The EPA has crafted a flexible means for states to reduce emissions from power plants, including through existing energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. The significant carbon emission reductions that have already taken place in New Hampshire and the other states that are part of the RGGI program will form the basis for meeting the additional carbon reduction targets moving forward.

The Clean Power Plan provides an opportunity for New Hampshire to control its own energy destiny while meeting the challenge of climate change by developing an innovative plan to maximize carbon emissions reductions through a range of clean energy solutions. The investments we make in our future will create jobs and investment opportunities, while protecting human health and the environment.

(Julie Fox Gorte is a senior vice president at Pax World Management LLC, a Portsmouth-based investment company and a member of the Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk.)


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