Washington, D.C. (September 9, 2008) -- As America confronts the current energy crisis, a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and partner labor and environmental groups shows that the U.S. can create two million jobs by investing in clean energy technologies that will strengthen the economy and fight global warming. The report finds that investing in clean energy would create four times as many jobs as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
“This new report shows that investing in clean energy is a win-win solution. Shifting to clean energy will put more people to work, provide consumers relief at the pump, help reduce global warming pollution and revitalize our economy at a time when many Americans are hurting,” said Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC.
“Green Recovery – A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy” analyzes the potential for a two year $100 billion green investment program – which would be comparable to the size of the April 2008 federal stimulus package dedicated to consumer rebates – to be an engine for job creation in the U.S. This type of investment is a component of a broader clean energy strategy to create a low-carbon economy and reduce global warming pollutions.
The program could be paid for with proceeds from auctions of carbon permits under a global warming cap-and-trade program that will drive private investments into clean energy and raise public revenue through carbon permit auctions. A cap-and-trade program will enable America to reduce global warming pollution to the levels science indicates are needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
The package is illustrative of the potential for clean energy – and specifically green infrastructure investments – to create new jobs and strengthen the economy. The specific package would invest in six green infrastructure priorities: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency, expanding mass transit and freight rail, constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems, wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels.
The report also shows that the vast majority of the two million jobs gained from this initial $100 billion investment in clean energy would be in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, in every region and state of the country; for example: constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators and building inspectors. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians, and dispatchers.
In addition to creating two million jobs nationwide over two years, a $100 billion initial investment in our clean energy future would:
- Create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
- Create roughly triple the number of good jobs — paying at least $16 dollars an hour — as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
- Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.
The report proposes that the $100 billion of initial investments fund:
- $50 billion for tax credits. This would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits, as well as investments in renewable-energy systems.
- $46 billion in direct government spending. This would support public building retrofits, the expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical-grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy.
- $4 billion for federal loan guarantees. This would underwrite private credit that is extended to finance building retrofits and investments in renewable energy.
The report was written by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, under commission by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and released by NRDC and a coalition of labor and environmental groups. The authors of the report are Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber of PERI. For the complete report findings go to