Good Jobs, Green Jobs - Wednesday Plenary
As NRDC's Peter Lehner pointed out during today's session, our economic system is part of the world's ecosystem, and both are in trouble now. Creating low-wage, dead-end jobs are not the answer to spur innovation and energize our economy. Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America also made the point this morning that even "slaves have jobs." The plenary session today focuses on how to create long-term, economically viable green jobs across all sectors of our economy.
The figures for potential job creation in a green economy are impressive. For example, if we, as a nation, adopt a 70 percent recycling standard, there will be 1 million new jobs. The wind energy industry needs the skills of machinists and technicians from the old economy. One way to assure that these will be decent jobs would be to adopt a requirement that companies that take advantage of renewable energy tax credits or grants be subject to the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirement.
Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said that environmentalism in the 21st century isn't just about cleaning up other peoples' messes. It's about how we move forward in an economically sustainable way to fight global warming and other environmental problems.
NRDC has a long history of working with labor - a history that continues to this day with our partnership with the Teamsters to clean up the port of Los Angeles with an economic model of port trucking to insure that new, clean, well-maintained trucks replace the old, dirty trucks we now see at the ports. As Peter said this morning, this model will also allow the Teamsters to try to organize the port drivers. We don't run away from that - we embrace it. Why? Because good jobs and green jobs are not mutually exclusive. We can have it both ways.