Investment in renewables and energy efficiency would create seven times more green jobs over the next ten years than would be lost in the coal and nuclear sectors in Europe, according to a report launched today by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), and backed by trade unions.
A switch from dirty energy to renewables and energy efficiency would not just avoid over 470 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in OECD Europe, but would create 30% more jobs by 2020 than if we continue investing in fossil and nuclear fuels. If Europe chooses a clean energy pathway, 1.2 million people would be employed in the power generation sector, compared to eight hundred and fifty thousand under business as usual. The report finds that over three hundred and eighty thousand jobs would be created in renewables and energy efficiency over the next decade, as opposed to some fifty thousand that would be lost in the coal and nuclear sectors.
“For each job lost in the coal and nuclear sectors in Europe, seven jobs would be created in renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next ten years. Green investments are an opportunity to revitalise the economy: postponing climate action is prolonging the economic recession and cheating us out of thousands of jobs. European leaders need to trigger an energy revolution and support and re-train communities affected by this technology shift,” said Frauke Thies, Greenpeace EU energy expert.
“Now is the time to put in place a ‘just transition’ to sustainably transform the jobs of today and develop the decent and green jobs of tomorrow,” added Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). “The union movement, as well as the authors of this report, believe ambitious climate action by world leaders can and must be a driver for sustainable economic growth and social progress.”
The report: Working for the Climate: Renewable Energy & The Green Job [R]evolution is based on Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution report and research from the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the Sydney University of Technology. The report shows that by 2020, 5 million people could work for the renewable power industry globally and more than eight hundred and twenty thousand in Europe.
“There are already 450,000 people working in the renewable energy industry in Europe, representing a turnover of more than EUR 45 billion. This research proves that renewable energy is key to tackling both the climate and economic crises,” said Christine Lins, Secretary General of the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
Speaking with a group of bloggers on Monday ahead of his fifth annual summit of leaders from government and the private sector, President Bill Clinton said the U.S. risks looking like “yesterday’s country” if it does not approve a binding limit on greenhouse gases this year. His remarks come just before the United Nations climate summit on Tuesday and the start of the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. The summit serves as forum for innovators and funders to collaborate on international projects, with a focus on economic development, human rights, health, and environment. Climate change has been among the top issues at the summit in recent years.
“I still think the president should try really hard to pass climate change legislation this year, in addition to health care,” he said. Without passing it, he said, the U.S. will appear “long in the tooth…. We need to be tomorrow’s country.”
The key, said Clinton, is to “disprove this myth that still has a grip on many members of Congress, that [action on climate] is a net negative to the economy…. It’s a huge myth that still has a stranglehold,” he said, citing nations like Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom who are on a path to meet or exceed their goals under the Kyoto Protocol that have maintained economic stability.
Clinton rattled off potential jobs created by climate policy and the potential of efficiency, noting half of the 2020 emissions-reduction goals that global leaders have discussed could be met by efficiency alone. He said President Obama’s stimulus plan could easily have devoted another $100 billion for those areas.
Acknowledging that many Democrats from coal, oil, and manufacturing states may be hesitant to vote for a bill perceived as a threat to their home-state industries, he said it’s key to show the benefits of climate policy. “The number one thing we have to do is make sure we don’t lose any Democrats because they really actually believe it’s bad economics,” he said. He recalled the BTU tax, backed by his administration, that passed the House without any Republican support as part of a budget bill in 1993, only to be dropped in the Senate. Republicans used the tax as a bludgeon against Democrats who voted for it, using the issue effectively in the 1994 elections that brought the first GOP House majority in 40 years.
A coalition of more than 500 international companies on Tuesday urged rich countries to commit to “immediate and deep” cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at U.N. climate talks to help combat global warming.
The group of some of the world’s biggest energy companies, retailers and manufacturers said a failure to agree a strong new climate deal at U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December would erode confidence and cut investment in low-carbon technology.
In a statement issued as nations met for a climate summit at the United Nations in New York, the coalition said economic development will be impossible without a stable climate.
“These are difficult and challenging times for the international business community and a poor outcome from…Copenhagen will only make them more so,” it said.
“If a sufficiently ambitious, effective and globally equitable deal can be agreed, it will…deliver the economic signals that companies need if they are to invest billions of dollars in low carbon products, services, technologies and infrastructure.”
The statement was issued by companies who back a campaign by Britain’s Prince Charles, heir to the throne and environmental campaigner, to press for new government policies on climate change and “to grasp the business opportunities created by moving to a low climate-risk economy”.
Recession has set the stage for the sharpest fall in world greenhouse gas emissions in 40 years, an estimate Monday showed, as world leaders gathered in New York to seek a way forward on a new climate change treaty.
The International Energy Agency said global output of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels, would fall by about 2.6 percent this year amid a tumble in industrial activity.
It expressed hope that the world would seize on the decline to shift to lower-carbon growth despite worries that governments might take it as an excuse for inaction.
“This fall in emissions and in investment in fossil fuels will only have meaning with agreement in Copenhagen which provides a low-carbon signal to investors,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told Reuters.
As world leaders and their top advisers convened in Manhattan for Tuesday’s United Nations summit on global warming, there were hints of accord on a few issues that could form the basis for a climate deal in December in Copenhagen – something less that a full-blown treaty but sufficient to avoid total breakdown of an international effort.
But in remarks by officials, there were also displays of the deep rifts that persist between rich countries and emerging powers. How this all shakes out in the 77 days leading up to the Copenhagen meeting remains to be seen. But for the moment, the familiar roadblocks to a climate deal appear to be strong and holding.
Most notable today was the continuing insistence by top officials from developing countries, including the president of South Korea and representatives of China and India, that the world’s established powers need to provide money and technology to help developing countries shift away from fossil fuels.
In an interview with several journalists from The Times, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea described his country’s plans for voluntarily curbing emissions and intensifying research on non-polluting energy technology. But, echoing China and other fast-developing countries, he also insisted that a predicate for serious engagement by developing countries was a concrete commitment by wealthy nations. The rich nations, he said, must recognize that they in essence owe the rest of the world a climate debt for the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere from their century-plus head start in burning fossil fuels.
I mentioned last week that both CBS and Politico were forced to issue corrections on pieces they published citing inflated cost-estimates of a version of climate legislation that was never considered by Congress.
Despite immediate and forceful pushback from the Treasury Department, the Congressional Budget Office and environmental groups, solid reporting by the Wonk Room and the Washington Post, and thorough debunkings by Media Matters and Politifact, several leading GOP elected officials have begun citing the highly misleading figure.
Environmental groups are scrambling to convince Democratic lawmakers that a vote on cap-and-trade this year would not harm them politically. Attempting to suppress Democrats’ doubts about pushing for another controversial vote now that the health care debate has proved long and bloody, groups that support cap-and-trade say they have spent the summer building the kind of grassroots support that health care reform did not have. Climate legislation advocates say they are deploying a “climate war room” — funded by 60 labor, business, faith, agricultural and environmental groups — to coordinate operations in 20 states.
The White House privately says it is reluctant to push lawmakers toward another contentious vote this year, but cap-and-trade advocates know that a winter of opposition ads could doom their efforts. Their focus has turned to polls, with which they hope to persuade hesitant, battle-weary Democrats. They are pointing to data that show most Americans support changes to U.S. energy policy currently in the works in Congress, and that Democrats in contested districts are not facing any backlash for supporting cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year.
“When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind,” said Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign. “We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on — even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.”
Chinese and American companies are eager to find ways to cooperate and work with each others’ country, provided their governments support them, Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, said at a Climate Week NY°C panel discussion on China-US energy issues today. He was sitting next to Sen. John Kerry, who is leading the push in the Senate to pass climate legislation.
It will someday be “hard to tell if these companies are Chinese or American,” Rogers said, referring to two China-based, US-linked renewable energy companies represented at the event, solar giant Suntech and Broad, which makes non-electric air conditioners. Issuing his firm support of a US climate bill for its power to finance clean energy, Tracy R. Wolstencroft. Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, said that a climate solution will depend upon a “three-legged stool” of policy, technology and capital. “All of those will need to move at the same speeds.”
Speaking to an audience of investors at the offices of Bloomberg, Kerry sought to establish his understanding of the business potential of climate change action. He knew something about the bottom line, he said, and “this is the best bottom line opportunity for our country and the world. The question is at what pace will it happen, and who’s going to own, discover and design the energy and fuels of the future.”
He predicted that in 15 years, there would be “4 or 5 or 15 Google equivalents” in the energy technology business.
He also lamented the failures of American policy makers in the 1980s to seize upon the U.S.’s alternative energy advantage that had begun to be established in the 70s. “We lost our lead to Japan and Germany.”
Now, he said, Germany has more workers on alternative fuels than in the automotive sector. He added: “Of the 30 top companies [in alternative energy], only five are in the U.S.”
Calling the market for environmental finance “fantastic” and possibly “the largest emerging market,” Wolstencroft of Goldman Sachs said that Chinese companies had raised 5 billion in capital in the U.S. over the past five years, in an arrangement possibly beneficial to both countries. “They develop solar panels that are then sold here at a low price, which stimulates the interest of consumers.”
He said a cap and trade system — and the carbon market and offset mechanism that would follow — would help to better distribute capital to alternative energy development and contain costs for companies as they adjust to a less carbon-intense future.
Kerry said he had his own term for controversial “cap-and-trade.” “I’d like to call it pollution reduction and investment in the future,” he said.