Clean Jobs

Climate Change & the Clean Economy

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If we do it right, we can create quality, family-sustaining jobs while also reducing carbon pollutions and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Strategic investments in building the clean economy like energy efficiency and renewable energy are critical, as are measures to ensure these jobs are quality jobs and that workers and communities impacted have the tools and resources they need to make the shift to a clean energy economy.

The Challenge

We are already feeling the impacts of climate change: last year was the warmest year on record. And these changes are costing us: in 2015, there were more than 10 weather or climate disaster events with costs exceeding $1 billion each, while researchers recently found that global temperature change will leave per capita GDP 23 percent lower in 2100.

However, our nation is in the midst of a major shift to clean energy, due to a multitude of reasons including lower natural gas prices, rising coal costs, and the competitive cost of renewable energy sources. We know clean energy will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, but, as the nation makes this transition, some workers and communities may be impacted.

As we find solutions to climate change, it’s important that we ensure the new jobs are good jobs that can support a family, and that we make available the tools and resources for workers to transition to new good jobs and for communities to diversify their local and regional economies and create new, quality jobs.

The Opportunity

Addressing climate change is a significant challenge, but if done right, can also be a significant opportunity.

Expanding clean energy and energy efficiency are key to addressing climate change, and making sure the jobs created are quality jobs will strengthen our economy. Energy efficiency improvements for public buildings and manufacturers will support existing jobs, increase the quality of jobs created, and reduce carbon pollution.

U.S. housing consumes over 20 percent of our energy, but local communities can capture the benefits of energy efficiency retrofits—including lower utility bills, improved tenant health, and increased economic development. Identifying the supply chain and moving policies to increase domestic production of energy efficiency retrofit products for multi-family housing will help to create quality manufacturing jobs. Read more about the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s work to advance energy efficiency retrofits for multi-family housing.

There is also great energy efficiency opportunity in the municipal buildings, universities, schools, and health care facilities (MUSH). In Michigan alone, reducing energy use in the MUSH sector by 20 percent will create 24,000 jobs by 2030, save $4.5 billion in energy costs, and 56,000 gigawatts of energy. We’ll be releasing data for several other states in the near future.

It’s important to improve the quality of jobs created, and it’s also essential to provide the tools and resources necessary for workers to transition to good new jobs, to diversify local and regional economies, and to create and sustain quality economic opportunities. This includes transition assistance, investment in workforce training, and economic development assistance for communities impacted by America’s energy transition.

Key Facts

1.9 million and 600,000 There are 1.9 million Americans employed in the energy efficiency sector and 600,000 workers are directly employed in the production of low-carbon electricity. (Source)

20% U.S. housing consumes over 20 percent of our energy, but local communities can capture the benefits of energy efficiency retrofits—including lower utility bills, improved tenant health, and increased economic development. (Source)

11% More than 11% of America’s workers are union members, including more than 21% of in the utility industries. (Source)

$2.4 million A proper transition is possible. In 1995, after a facility in Southeast Ohio laid off numerous workers, Utility Workers Union of America worked to secure $2.4 million in grants from the Department of Labor to assist dislocated workers. Read more. (Source)


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