Speaking at a conference on the future of America’s economic competitiveness, green jobs leader Van Jones called for a “robust policy discussion” on equity, inclusion, and fairness in the emerging green economy. In one of his first public appearances since returning to the Center for American Progress, senior fellow Van Jones told attendees of the CAP-Apollo Alliance conference, “Picking a Winner: How to Make the U.S. a Leader in the Clean Energy Economy,” that we now know that the clean energy economy is coming. There are “three key questions that need to be addressed” about the emerging clean energy economy, Jones said, but only two already have a “robust policy discussion”:
Will it be big enough and strong enough to avoid eco-apocalypse anyway? There’s a robust policy discussion about this, it’s called Copenhagen, it’s called cap and trade. . .
Secondly, will America get our fair share of the green jobs that are created in the global economy? . . .
But the third question is: will all Americans have a fair shot at America’s fair share? And there is not yet a big robust policy discussion about that. Will all Americans have a fair shot at America’s fair share? And I think that is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle here that actually helps to solve the rest of it. If all Americans are likely to get a fair shot at America’s fair share, then we’ll be a lot more aggressive about getting the renewable energy standard in place, we’ll be a lot more aggressive about getting smart climate policy in place, because everybody’s going to see that they have a dog in their race.
The three questions of ecological sufficiency, economic competitiveness, and societal equity underlie green economic policy debate. Another way of understanding the issues is the scale at which they are being primarily addressed — ecological sufficiency on the international stage, economic competitiveness on the national level, and societal equity at the local.
“If we don’t start having the robust policy conversation right now about inclusion and equal opportunity in the green economy, not only is that a policy failure,” Van Jones concluded, “but also political failure, which will ensure an economic and ecological failure.”