ASES: One in Four U.S. Jobs Could Be in Green Sector by 2030

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Nov 2007 19:54:00 GMT

The American Solar Energy Society unveiled a new report today in a briefing with Sen. Ken Salazar that says that 40 million U.S. jobs by 2030 in renewable energy and energy-efficiency (RE&EE) could be created if policymakers commit to growing the sector.

If U.S. policymakers aggressively commit to programs that support the sustained orderly development of RE&EE, the news gets even better. According to research conducted by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI), the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry could—in a crash effort—generate up to $4.5 trillion in revenue in the United States and create 40 million new jobs by the year 2030. These 40 million jobs would represent nearly one out of every four jobs in 2030, and many would be jobs that could not easily be outsourced.

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Germany has about one-fourth the gross domestic product and population of the U.S., but has more RE jobs (214,000 vs. 194,000). RE employment in Germany has increased 36 percent in two years. We don’t even know how much RE employment has increased in the United States, because—until now—no one has estimated actual RE employment.
Despite some job losses, the net effect within a carbon-constrained energy economy is positive, creating roughly five jobs for each job lost. Because unionization rates are higher on average in more energy-intensive industries, the positive effect on union jobs is not as strong, but it is still true that four union jobs are created for every three lost.
A second implication of these results is the importance of revenue recycling. Much of the negative impact of carbon/energy taxes is based on the assumption that the revenue will not be recycled through cuts in other taxes. It is critical, therefore, that the pricing policy be accomplished either by permits that are sold or by energy taxes, not through permits that are given away to industries at no cost (i.e., “grandfathered” to existing companies).
If we fail to invest in RE&EE, the United States runs the risk of losing ground to international RE&EE programs and industries. If we refuse to address policy and regulatory barriers to the sustained, orderly development of the RE&EE industry, other countries will take the lead and reap the economic and environmental benefits. For the United States to be competitive in a carbon-constrained world, the RE&EE industry will be a critical economic driver.
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