Bipartisan support to combat climate change will also create more middle-class jobs

By Autumn Burke

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke says workforce development is a critical component of Cap-and-Trade

California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina del Rey) was part of a legislative working group for extending the state’s Cap-and-Trade carbon emissions program, approved Monday with the support of eight Republican state legislators and all but three Democrats.

When California voters passed Proposition 28 to extend legislative term limits, their expectation was for their elected state legislators to build relationships and work together to solve the big issues of our time.

Climate Change is the largest threat to organized human existence — the biggest issue of our time — and I was proud to help lead a bipartisan working group toward the passage of AB 398, which extended the state’s Cap-and-Trade program to combat climate change.

The genesis of the bipartisan working group came from a collective desire to bring together our different interests — agriculture, workforce development, cost containment and legislative oversight — to forge a consensus borne from our desire to continue our state’s diligent efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, update our Cap-and-Trade program and create a model for the world.

California’s Cap-and-Trade program and the legislation we’ve passed to extend it to 2030 will do a great deal to combat greenhouse gas emissions in the decade ahead and help the world follow California’s lead in reducing carbon emissions.

As good as that is for Californians and our planet, our state’s Cap-and-Trade program is about more than just addressing the problems of global warming. It’s also about ensuring no Californian is left behind as we transition from the so-called “dirty economy” to a clean and renewable economy.

Cap-and-Trade can provide continued support for workforce development that is essential to create and sustain a just transition for all workers, so they may continue to earn a decent wage and provide for their families.

Workforce development is a critical component of our Cap-and-Trade 2.0 program extension. We would all be ill-served if we create an economy of the haves and have-nots. We look forward to receiving the recommendations from the California Air Resources Board and the California Workforce Development Board, as required in AB 398, on how to improve economic opportunity for all Californians.

It will be incumbent upon the Legislature to help implement the program and appropriate funding to ensure all Californians have the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to obtain a job that provides economic security for workers and their families. If we are going to prove to the rest of the world that our climate policies work, our policies must support a strong and growing middle class.