Green Paychecks

It turns out that nearly 750,000 Americans get paychecks from jobs that reduce pollution and increase the use of clean energy, according to a new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The report creates the first index of existing jobs devoted to reducing the use of fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Interestingly, that's more than the number of Americans who earn a living in the mining sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Maybe this isn't as surprising as it seems. The global market for environmental services and products is around $1.3 trillion, according to an analysis by the United Nations Environment Program and the International Labor Organization. Produced with help from the Cornell Global Labor Institute, the report projects that a significant shift to clean energy investments could create as many as 20 million new jobs by 2030.

The already significant presence of green jobs in the US and the global potential for employing tens of millions of people underscores why it makes sense for Congress to tackle economic revitalization, clean energy and global warming with a comprehensive, forward-looking strategy - as I've discussed in earlier entries.

The bottom line is that repowering America with clean energy is the work of our generation. Building wind farms, solar arrays, hybrid cars, and efficient buildings connected with a smart electricity grid will create millions of jobs and make millions of existing ones more secure. But to get there, we need to demand clean energy that doesn't create global warming pollution. We need to use smart incentives to increase our use of the clean energy solutions we already have. We need to invest in the workers and the firms that are creating the next generation of clean energy technologies. This is the challenge that the next Congress and President must choose to face.