Is California an Economic Green Model of Prosperity?

The state of California hosted the Global Climate Action Summit in September, making it the first time a United States state hosted an international climate change conference with a direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement.

The announcement from the office of California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on the state’s willingness to host the summit came at the same time that U.S. President Donald Trump began making moves to withdraw the nation from the signed Paris Agreement and commence negotiations to re-enter or negotiate a new agreement.

According to Dan Walters, an opinion columnist for CALmatters, the sub-theme of Brown’s climate change conference in San Francisco in September was that California is a living model of how a nation-state can go green while experiencing economic prosperity.

California’s economy is booming, with the state’s unemployment rate as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dropping from 4.2% in May 2018 to 4.1% in October 2018, with most citizens employed in professional and business services.

The total output of this state of more than 39 million citizens is about $2.5 trillion, making it the fifth largest economy in the world – meaning it is on par with the economy of nations such as the United Kingdom and France.

However, the hype around the prosperous economy of California in spite of its green economy adoption needs to be reviewed. The United States’ economy is ranked best in the world and was reported to have also increased by 4.1% in Q2 2018. California being a state in the U.S. is invariably a beneficiary of this prosperous national economy.

Also, the statistic of unemployment presented by the BLS can be said to be misleading when the mode of assessment is examined. The 4.1% number is an account of people in the workforce who are currently unemployed, but does not take into consideration able citizens who don’t work or don’t want to work for personal reasons. Since the same method is used to rate other states in the U.S. too, the state of being biased can be negated.

Concluding on whether California is an economic green model of prosperity is dependent on an individual’s perception of what prosperity means. If prosperity is the maintenance of the current fantastic economy without any decline, then California is indeed an economic green model of prosperity.

But if prosperity is a significant improvement in the economy with little or no external effect on the national economy, then California cannot be argued to be a model, as presently, it is basking in the glory of the nation’s prosperity – which has nothing to do with the Paris Agreement or having a green economy.