Report: Clean Energy Economy Creates 1.7 Million Jobs

America’s emerging clean energy economy will create 1.7 million jobs and spur $150 billion in clean investments a year if our nation takes strong action, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress. Today, CAP and the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy, the first study to project the combined effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA) on the US economy. Thoroughly debunking Republicans’ oft-repeated claims that passage of clean energy and climate legislation would be “ruining America’s prosperity,” the report finds the American economy would see a net gain of 1.7 million jobs a year:

Understanding the specific features of ARRA and ACESA and how they will work in combination allows us to estimate the level of public and private-sector investments in clean energy. As we will demonstrate, the two programs together could create $150 billion a year in new investment and 1.7 million net new jobs a year — that is, 1.7 million more jobs each year than would be the case without a $150 billion shift in spending from conventional fossil fuels to clean energy investments.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February, ensures direct government spending on clean energy. In the stimulus, the federal government committed to $24.4 billion in spending on energy efficiency, $23 billion for transportation investments, and $25.3 billion for renewable energy from 2010 to 2014. The Waxman-Markey clean-energy economy legislation, if passed, will contribute to green job growth by promoting new private-sector investments over the ensuing decades. Waxman-Markey contains regulations to promote clean energy, a market-based cap on carbon emissions, and initiatives to help American businesses and families transition to clean energy.

Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency create more than three times as many jobs as equivalent spending on fossil fuels. A $1 million investment in clean energy creates 16.7 jobs while the same spending on fossil fuels yields only 5.3 jobs:


Most of the 1.7 million green jobs created by the $150 billion investment will be generated by retro-fitting buildings for energy efficiency and creating new clean-energy projects, like wind farms. In their words, investing in clean energy means more work for machinists, truck drivers, builders, roofers, insulators, electricians, engineers, and dispatchers. The addition of these 1.7 million jobs to the US economy this year would have meant a full point drop in national unemployment, from 9.4 to 8.4 percent.

In addition to the national projection of job creation that would result from a $150 billion investment in clean energy, the report estimates the net increase in investment revenue and jobs in all fifty states. For example, global warming denier Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has claimed Waxman-Markey would “relocate American jobs overseas in pursuit of an unproven environmental agenda.” Today’s report finds that Indianans would see a net increase of $3.1 billion in investment and 38,000 jobs. Had the United States made this clean energy investment in 2008, those 38,000 jobs would have brought Indiana’s level of unemployment down more than a percent, from 5.9 to 4.7 percent.

Republicans have tried everything from calling a cap on global warming pollution a “national energy tax” to name-calling — disparaging green jobs and claiming that the clean energy industry is “as real as the Jolly Green Giant.” Opponents of clean energy reform have now lost yet another avenue of protest with this proof that the green economy legislation currently in Congress will help spur billions in investment and create 1.7 million jobs.