The unemployment rate is stagnant at near record highs, businesses across the country are experiencing hiring freezes due to decreased revenue, and the overall state of the economy can be summed up with one word — blah. However, the federal government may be able to help improve the economy with one simple change, a federal climate policy. A new report from the Center for Climate Strategies and Johns Hopkins University, Impacts of Comprehensive Climate and Energy Policy Options on the U.S. Economy, details how climate policy could create 2.5 million jobs.
To reach this conclusion, researchers examined existing climate policies in 16 states and recommended the adoption of 23 different climate policy approaches. If implemented, the new climate policy could reduce pollution in a cost-effective manner, improve the health of our nation, improve the environment and spur economic development.
If all 23 of these measures were included in a new federal climate policy, we could realize a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions equal to 27 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This is a greater reduction than that proposed by the federal government. The climate policy could also generate 2.5 million net new jobs and a $159.6 billion expansion in GDP by 2020. While there is direct environmental and economic benefit, the proposed changes could also lead to a reduction in energy costs for consumers: .56 percent reduction in gasoline and oil, .6 percent reduction for fuel oil and coal, 2.01 percent for electricity, and .87 percent for natural gas during the same time period.
These 23 measures fall into four sectors: forestry and waste; energy supply; residential, commercial and industrial; and transportation and land use. Areas targeted in the forestry and waste sector include urban forestry and expanding recycling programs. Energy supply topics covered include nuclear energy, renewables, coal plant efficiency, and carbon capture storage and reuse.
Energy efficiency is key in the residential, commercial and industrial category including building codes, combined heat and power, and appliance standards. Suggestions in the transportation and land use sector include mandating the use of anti-idling technologies, mass transit, and rebates and other purchase incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Although this report shows that the national effect of a federal climate policy will be beneficial across the board, the state of the nation’s political system is not welcoming to climate legislation at this time. The Senate recently removed the climate bill from its agenda and unfortunately, no one knows when it may return.
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