Last month, President Obama hosted the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth
. The Dec. 3 meeting gathered CEOs, small business owners, those that work in the nonprofit industry, and others to brainstorm ideas to help solve the employment and economic crises. In addition to the meeting at the White House, the Obama administration encouraged local leaders to host Community Jobs Forums
across the nation. The results from White House Forum have been gathered and compiled into a single report
The 52-page report includes summaries of each of the six sessions held at the White House as well as remarks by President Obama and Vice President Biden. One of the six sessions focused specifically on green jobs of the future.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, moderated the green jobs session. A variety of business and community leaders attending the event including:
- Stephanie Ann Burns of Dow Corning
- Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio, Texas
- Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Green for All
- Tom Friedman of the New York Times
- Lynn Jurick of SunRun Solar
- Lawrence Katz of Harvard
- Jeff Sachs of Columbia
There were four main issues discussed during the session. The community leaders discussed ways in which manufacturing jobs can be created to help improve energy efficiency in both residential and commercial settings. Frank Blake of Home Depot discussed the importance of continuing weatherization projects. However, Blake says the current energy efficiency tax credits are too narrow and don’t even cover the cost of labor for many of these projects.
Naturally, financial constraints were discussed — these projects need funding and without investment, they won’t get started. Dow Corning’s representative, Stephanie Ann Burns, described Dow's $5 billion investment in renewable energy facilities in Minnesota and Tennessee. According to Burns, 3,000 green jobs were created for every 100 megawatts of solar power.
Another topic discussed was the need for the nation to put a price on carbon. According to the report, “participants highlighted the need for predictability and certainty by putting a price on carbon and setting a renewable energy standard.”
Lastly, the group focused on bringing the youth of our nation into the sustainability advocacy fold. This is already something that the government is focusing on. Many of the green jobs training grants provided for with Recovery Act funding is targeted at our nation’s youth. The forum attendees all said that providing training and educational opportunities to today’s youth will allow for long-term green jobs growth.
In addition to green jobs, forum participants also discussed the following topics: small businesses/entrepreneurs, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, strengthening workers, encouraging business investment and competitiveness, and expanding job opportunities through exports.