Strange bedfellows oppose Prop 23

An initiative to repeal the state's global warming law is not getting nearly the kind of industry backing that might have been expected. Shell is opposed, as is former Secretary of State George Schultz (the staunch Republican began driving an electric car years before it became the thing to do). SF hedge fund manager Tom Steyer has pledged up to $5 million to help bankroll the opposition, and both Chevron and the California Chamber of Commerce are staying neutral, which is really the same as voting no. Along with these unlikely opponents are environmental groups and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had pushed the legislation in the first place. Anything might still happen in November (and don't forget that the villainous Koch brothers are shelling out millions in support of the measure), but right now it doesn't appear as if the landmark emissions law is in jeopardy. But why not? Adam Werbach, the author of "Strategy for Sustainability," has some interesting theories. From

* Employee Demand: As younger workers in forward-looking companies begin to assume management positions, they demand that their employers be ahead of the curve. Recruiting the best talent means presenting your company as an innovator, a leader of the future.

* Changing Business Models: Companies like General Electric and Google view the clean energy boom as a business opportunity, and must rationalize their policy positions with their business objectives. As new analyst groups, like the Goldman-Sachs Sustain framework, gain more prominence, companies that have more of their portfolio hedged against commodity shocks and climate change will become more highly valued.

* CEO Engagement: CEOs are personally driving corporate advocacy of climate change regulation. For some it's a way to curry favor with particular board members, for others it's a personal belief, often encouraged by their children, for others it's a way to move their reputation from technocrat to statesman.

You might call this knowledge-based support, which is quietly making headway over the nitwit-based opposition that tends to show up on Fox. It's a similar dynamic to the debate over same-sex marriage. A recent CNN poll shows more supporters than opponents - and the divide is certain to widen over the next few years as a younger, more educated population heads to the polls.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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