Summary

On October 22, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) held a briefing in conjunction with the House Climate Change Caucus to discuss the potential for green jobs in the United States and the policies needed to support them. EESI Executive Director Carol Werner introduced the topic of green jobs as a way to reduce unemployment and stimulate the American economy, and recognized the leadership of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) and John Tierney (D-MA) on these issues in Congress. The expert panel then provided an overview of three recent reports on green jobs: Green Recovery, produced by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with the Center for American Progress (CAP); Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, produced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); and U.S. Metro Economies: Green Jobs in U.S. Metro Areas, prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In addition, the panel included an industry representative who related first-hand experience in the deployment of green jobs.

An investment in research, development, and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies could help the United States emerge as a global leader in the new green economy and put millions of people to work. According to the American Solar Energy Society, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries created 8.5 million direct and indirect jobs in 2006. With the right policies, America could see significant growth in a broad range of domestic, clean energy jobs – everything from manufacturing, construction and installation to engineering, accounting and management. Renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits, such as those just passed in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, play an important role in supporting businesses that develop wind, solar, and geothermal energy resources, among others. In addition, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 included provisions for “green” workforce development to assist this green transition. However, this provision has yet to be funded.

The global market value for environmental products and services is currently about $1.3 trillion, according to German-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, and is projected to be about $2.7 trillion by 2020. In addition to growing the economy, the transition to a new green economy will have co-benefits of strengthening energy security, improving water and air quality as well as public health, and reducing climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy can help solve two of our most pressing problems: the financial crisis and climate change. Both situations are urgent, and we must start now.
  • In 2006, the US economy had about 750,000 green jobs. By 2038, the U.S. Metro Economies report projects that more than 4.2 million green jobs will be created by the economy -- a five-fold increase. These green jobs could contribute 10 percent of new jobs through 2038.
  • Renewable energy jobs are more labor-intensive than those in the fossil fuel industries, meaning more jobs are created by investing in renewable energy industries than in fossil fuel industries.
  • According to the Green Recovery report, investing $100 billion into a green recovery program can create two million jobs in two years, with a significant proportion (800,000 jobs) in the struggling construction and manufacturing sectors.
  • While the United States invented much of today's renewable energy technology, we now import many of the present clean technologies from Asia and Europe because of a lack of policies pushing these industries within the United States.
  • Without a domestic manufacturing and supply base for advance battery systems and other critical components for plug-ins and other electric vehicles, our transportation sector will continue to depend on foreign imports.

Speaker Slides