The Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference hosted by the United Steelworkers and Sierra Club kicks off today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and features panels led by Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta and Senior Fellow Bracken Hendricks, as well as the release of a report from the Apollo Alliance and Green for All, “Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities,” written with CAP and the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.
The conference will mark the first time that over 700 representatives of diverse constituencies around the nation—including organized labor, business and industry, environmentalists, public officials, civil rights advocates, and academia—will come together to broaden the discussion on how investment in clean energy and green technology can transform our economy and reinvest in the skills of our workers and the strength of our communities.
Americans are recognizing that the dual challenges of global warming and energy insecurity will require a profound transformation of our energy, infrastructure, and transportation systems around the platforms of efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. Within this transformation lie enormous opportunities for innovation, productivity growth, entrepreneurship, and good jobs in construction, skilled services, and manufacturing as we build a new green economy.
Environmentally sustainable economic growth can be a tide that lifts all boats, especially for the most marginalized rural and urban populations. It can offer pathways out of poverty, jobs that can’t be outsourced, skills training and career ladders in high-paying trades, and industries of the future. The private sector, civil society, and elected officials are motivated by more than altruism; they see enormous economic opportunities afforded by the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Organized labor sees enormous opportunities for its members in green job creation. The Executive Council of the AFL-CIO recently released an official policy statement calling for a better future and the greening of the economy. The American labor movement came out strongly in recognizing both the urgency of climate change and the importance of investment in new clean energy technology to rebuild America to prosper in a green economy with the bold declaration that “The AFL-CIO supports a new industrial policy, an environmental economic development policy, which places manufacturing and trade at the center of a green economy program.”
“Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities,” offers a first-of-its kind guide outlining specifically how cities can leverage local environmental, economic development, and workforce development programs to grow these “green-collar jobs” of the future. The guide explains how pursuing a four-step strategy—essentially a metropolitan green business and workforce development plan—creates a wealth of environmental, economic, and social benefits for cities, including pathways out of poverty for thousands of unemployed and under-employed people in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress stresses the importance of clean energy jobs to the growing debate on climate change. “Solving global warming will mean many billions of dollars of new public and private investment in rebuilding our cities for energy efficiency, retooling our economy with advanced technology, and new investments in low-carbon energy and state of the art infrastructure,” says Hendricks. “If we are smart about it, building a green economy will mean new economic development, greater prosperity, and more opportunity for those who need good jobs most. This report shows that green jobs are a real opportunity not only to avert a climate crisis, but to build more vibrant communities and lift up living standards for hard working Americans at the same time.”
Cities and metropolitan regions all across America are showing how the movement toward clean energy, efficiency, and livability is creating perhaps the greatest new engine for economic growth, innovation, and job creation in decades. Meanwhile, training and employing previously-marginalized people for the higher wage, family-supporting careers in the new clean, green, energy efficient job sectors is a critical component of restoring America’s shared prosperity. “Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities” is an excellent road map for how to accomplish these goals and contribute to the success of the landmark Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference.