Solving climate change can mean new markets and new investments in workers and small businesses. These “green collar jobs” involve environmentally friendly products or services such as construction of green schools, solar panel manufacturing, energy efficiency retrofits of homes, brownfield clean-up, and waterfront restoration.
Green collar jobs are concentrated in areas such as construction and manufacturing that provide family-supporting wages, skill development, and career ladders. And they are often localized, which makes them harder to move off shore and provides a greater economic ripple effect in local communities.
As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets today to discuss domestic energy industry workforce needs, it should consider the following numbers:
5.3 million: A recent study conducted by Management Information Services, Inc., found that in 2005 the environmental industry nationwide generated more than 5.3 million jobs, $341 billion in sales, and $47 billion in tax revenues.
10: The environmental industry employs 10 times more workers than the pharmaceutical industry. It is bigger than the biggest fortune 500 company.
6.3 million: MISI forecasts that U.S. employment created directly and indirectly by environmental protection will reach 6.3 million jobs and $448 billion in real expenditures by 2015.
100 percent: Renewable energy creates twice as many jobs per unit of energy than traditional fossil fuel-based generating technologies.
$700 billion: The University of Tennessee found that America’s farms, forests, and ranches can play a significant role in reaching a national goal of 25 percent renewable energy generation by 2025. Renewable energy crops can provide more than $700 billion in economic activity and 5.1 million jobs in 2025, with most of this growth occurring in rural areas.
$14 billion: According to estimates by the Clean Tech Venture Network, U.S. “green technology” investment will reach at least $14 billion by 2010, and possibly as much as $19 billion. This will result in the creation of between 400,000 and 500,000 new jobs.
$2.4 billion: Venture capital has begun to pour into clean energy. In 2006, venture investments in clean energy technologies tripled, bringing that figure to $2.4 billion.
39 percent: Globally, the annual revenue for solar power, wind power, biofuels, and fuel cell companies rose to $55.4 billion in 2006 from $40 billion in 2005—a nearly 39 percent increase in one year. Market research firm Clean Edge forecasts that these four technologies alone will become a $226 billion market by 2016.
Reorienting our antiquated energy infrastructure around the platforms of sustainability, efficiency, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions represents a great economic engine for innovation, productivity growth, and international competitiveness in coming decades.
These jobs create local economies and are strong enough to lift people out of poverty, all while rolling back pollution and creating healthier cities and more equitable livelihoods for all Americans.
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