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Report: Strong Climate Policy Would Protect 14 Million American Jobs

By Brad Johnson  

"Report: Strong Climate Policy Would Protect 14 Million American Jobs"

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A new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, finds that strong climate policy is a driver for a healthy economy. A policy that prioritizes energy efficiency and renewable energy — such as cap-and-trade legislation that limits carbon emissions — will drive investment into those sectors. From day one, the millions of Americans working in such jobs will enjoy greater job security.

Strong Climate Action Directly Benefits Over 14 Million American Workers. “What is clear from this report is that millions of U.S. workers — across a wide range of occupations, states, and income levels — will all benefit from the project of defeating global warming and transforming the United States into a green economy.” Over 14 million people throughout the country are employed in 45 representative occupations that would benefit in a low-carbon economy, roughly nine percent of today’s total U.S. workforce. [PERI, 5/28/08]

The six green strategies examined in the report are: building retrofitting, mass transit, energy-efficient automobiles, wind power, solar power, and cellulosic biomass fuels. PERI’s analysis shows that the vast majority of jobs associated with these six green strategies are in the same areas of employment that people already work in to-day, in every region and state of the country.

JOBS THAT WILL BUILD THE GREEN U.S. ECONOMY AND FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING

Strategies for Green Economy Investments Representative Jobs
Building Retrofitting Electricians, Heating/Air Conditioning Installers, Carpenters, Construction Equipment Operators, Roofers, Insulation Workers, Carpenter Helpers, Industrial Truck Drivers, Construction Managers, Building Inspectors
Mass Transit Civil Engineers, Rail Track Layers, Electricians, Welders, Metal Fabricators, Engine Assemblers, Production Helpers, Bus Drivers, First-Line Transportation Supervisors, Dispatchers
Energy-Efficient Automobiles Computer Software Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Engineering Technicians, Welders, Transportation Equipment Painters, Metal Fabricators, Computer-Controlled Machine Operators, Engine Assemblers, Production Helpers, Operations Managers
Wind Power Environmental Engineers, Iron and Steel Workers, Millwrights, Sheet Metal Workers, Machinists, Electrical Equipment Assemblers, Construction Equipment Operators, Industrial Truck Drivers, Industrial Production Managers, First-Line Production Supervisors
Solar Power Electrical Engineers, Electricians, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Welders, Metal Fabricators, Electrical Equipment Assemblers, Construction Equipment Operators, Installation Helpers, Laborers, Construction Managers
Cellulosic Biofuels Chemical Engineers, Chemists, Chemical Equipment Operators, Chemical Technicians, Mixing and Blending Machine Operators, Agricultural Workers, Industrial Truck Drivers, Farm Product Purchasers, Agricultural and Forestry Supervisors, Agricultural Inspectors

As the report’s authors note, “The percentage of total U.S. employment involved in green jobs could be expanded dramatically if we had reported the various service and support occupations that will be needed for each of the six green investment areas.” And if they considered other green investments — “the listing of representative occupations — again, still not attempting an exhaustive list — would need to expand further.”

Labor and industry leaders have heralded the report’s findings:

Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers:

The commitment to a clean energy economy will not only lead to quality jobs in manufacturing unions and the building trades. It will help stop good-paying jobs from continuing to be exported.

Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All:

This report demonstrates that given the right strategies, green jobs can be the engine that allows us to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift a lot of people out of poverty. With good policies and strong investments that prepare people who most need work for the work that most needs to be done, green jobs can fight poverty and global warming pollution at the same time.

Bracken Hendricks, founder of the Apollo Alliance and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress:

As Congress debates climate legislation it should keep in mind that investing in energy efficiency and alternative energy means more opportunity for today’s job market including welders and machinists, carpenters, insulators and electrical engineers. In a very real sense, green jobs are America’s jobs.

Dave Foster, executive director of the Blue-Green Alliance:

This report demonstrates that the quickest way to put Americans back to work is through investments in solving global warming. The jobs we’ll create are the very jobs our country is losing in the current recession.

Clayton Boyce, vice president of public affairs for the American Trucking Associations, tells E&E News:

Construction materials are a large sector of the trucking market. If we do see more construction of windmills and energy-efficient buildings, it would add to that market.

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