1Sky.org a nonprofit dedicated to solving the climate crisis, recently published a report (PDF) which compiles recent data on job creation in the green economy.  The findings were impressive -- 2 million jobs in the next 2 years (assuming the pledged 100 billion stimulus package).  

And that's just the starting point. 1Sky.org calls on government officials to create 5 million new jobs while reducing 25% of all US greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  A plan, they say which will not only revitalize our ailing economy, but create a healthier environment. The report defines a new term, the 'green collar job' as "...a well paid, career-track job that contributes directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality." Some recently case studies include:

  • the Wind industry in Texas is creating thousands of new jobs and millions in income (Texas State Energy Conservation Office, 2008)
  • the Million Solar Roofs program in California has created unprecedented demand for skilled workers (CPUC, 2008)
  • 97 new geothermal power projects in 13 states will create 7,000 new jobs (Earth Policy Institute, 2008)
  • Pennsylvania steel workers have benefited from $175 million in private capital to build wind turbines, creating 1200 new union jobs (Apollo Alliance, 2008)
For those that think funding green energy is going to cost too much, check out the following stat:  A recent study by economist Paul Volcker, former US Federal Reserve Chairman under Reagan, found that "doing nothing" to abate climate change will cost the US $3.8 trillion in GDP! Inaction would be a devastating loss, not just for the planet but for the economy as a whole.  Volcker states that if nothing is done, "...you can be sure that the economy will go down the drain in the next thirty years.”

Green energy creates 4x more jobs than fossil energy

One of the most interesting findings was by Robert Pollin of the University of Massachussetts (September, 2008) on the difference in job creation by industry sector.  Wind, Solar and Geothermal create an average of 4 times the number of jobs as coal, nuclear and fossil fuel energy.  The production of energy using fossil fuels (and Nuclear) are much more capital-intensive and less labor-intensive.

Solar and Geothermal conversely, have lower capital costs, but create many more jobs. The chart above shows jobs per megawatt in each industry. For one job created in a coal plant, 14 jobs would be created in the solar sector!

The report talks about the dangers of inaction and some recent close calls.  The Production Tax Credit nearly failed this year.  Given our current economic crisis, this would have been catastrophic, resulting in the loss of over 100,000 green jobs.

Energy efficiency is king

Energy efficiency (retrofitting existing buildings to reduce their energy consumption) stands to surpass green energy production in terms of positive impact.  I have blogged about this before, but these stats, now backed up by leading economists are encouraging.  A $22 billion investment in energy efficiency would...

  • replace 22 standard coal plants
  • reduce annual CO2 by almost 90 tons
  • save 11 million barrels of oil
  • save consumers $8.5 billion dollars
  • create 216,000 new jobs
Sounds like a pretty good deal.

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.