Solutions: 5 Million Green Jobs
An economy that runs on clean energy needs green jobs. As investments catalyze the growth of a new, clean energy economy, we are finally ready to replace the old debate of "jobs vs. the environment" by investing in "jobs for the environment."
Truth be told, workforce shortages have emerged as one of the top barriers to the success of a new energy economy. A 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab (PDF) identified the shortage of skills and training as a leading barrier to renewable energy and energy efficiency growth.
Our country needs a new American Dream -- a green dream that includes everyone in our new vision of justice and prosperity. As we evolve to meet the challenges presented by the climate crisis, we have the opportunity to unite our nation around unprecedented labor mobilization and economic vitality.
We can create 5 million new jobs that will help conserve energy, jumpstart the deployment of new technologies, and contribute to the positive spirit of our ever-expanding movement. The green workforce will help lower barriers to entry for investors, and help revitalize communities that need it the most, resulting in a holistic and equitable transition away from the fossil fuel economy.
For a better understanding of what green jobs can do for your community, check out this video from eco-visionary Van Jones, a climate leader blazing the trail for green pathways out of poverty:
How are we going to make this happen?
There are many ways to go about creating green jobs, and many benefits in the process. Fighting for green jobs means fighting for new jobs, but it also means retooling old jobs to fit the needs of the new economy. Green jobs are American jobs that can't be outsourced overseas on the cheap, keeping our investment dollars in our own backyard. Green jobs are good jobs with opportunities for higher education and unionization, in communities that need that kind of opportunity. The economy needs laborers, but they need them in the right places – from the hills of Appalachia to the streets of the South Bronx. By investing in federally funded green collar jobs programs, we can make a small investment go a long way. We can conserve energy, save taxpayers money, increase employment, and provide new investment opportunities in the booming clean technology sector. Let's make it happen!
Many of our friends and allies have been hard at work proposing new economic solutions that hinge on the creation of green jobs. Here are a few of them:
The Apollo Alliance
The Apollo Alliance advocates a new "Apollo" program to transition the nation to renewable energy. They map out the renewable energy options and, more importantly, project the positive impact such a transition would have in creating jobs and alleviating poverty. The Apollo Alliance is supported by labor unions, environmental organizations, economic and social justice organizations, and businesses.
Green For All
The newly launched Green For All is working nationwide to replicate the success of local and state-level green job training programs. GFA works specifically with at-risk youth in environmental justice communities where economic revitalization is needed the most. Founded by Van Jones from Oakland, and Majora Carter from the South Bronx, Green For All unites communities, building a nationwide movement for eco-equity.
The Corps Network
The Corps Network is a voice for existing service corps throughout the country. They are a prime example of how adapting existing labor infrastructure can help spur growth in new economic sectors, like renewable energy and energy efficiency. Borne out of the CCC of the 30s, the Corps Network is rising to new challenges via their plan for a "Green New Deal."
More on green jobs:
- Union of Concerned Scientists: Clean Energy Blueprint
- American Solar Energy Society: Tens of Millions of New Jobs Worldwide (PDF)
- Internationals Labor Organization on Green Jobs: Climate Change in the World of Work
- Urban Habitat: Green Collar Jobs
- Just Transition Alliance: Climate Justice (PDF)
Green Jobs FAQs
Can we create more green jobs than the fossil fuel industry?
The bottom line here is that a clean energy economy will stabilize our economy and our climate. We will have more jobs, less outsourcing, and less carbon in our atmosphere. Our future will be one that is more just, and more equitable, complete with green pathways out of poverty and truly equal opportunity. As for the job angle, here's a helpful table from the Apollo Alliance's "Community Jobs Report: Renewable Energy Jobs per Megawatt (MW) of Electricity".
Find out more about this exciting 1Sky/350.org merger and how you can stay involved with the climate movement at 350.org.