When thinking about the type of organization that encourages clean tech investments and increasing green jobs, I don’t typically think of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). However, the WWF has recently published a new report doing just that – Getting Back in the Game: U.S. Job Growth Potential from Expanding Clean Technology Markets in Developing Countries (PDF).

However, the WWF’s involvement in clean energy makes sense. Clean energy is a climate change issue, and climate change is a threat to wildlife around the world. In the report, WWF identifies the potential to create up to 850,000 new American jobs by investing in clean technologies in developing countries over the next 50 years. According to their report, the International Energy Agency has identified a potential $27 trillion clean tech market in developing countries and the U.S. only needs to capture 14 percent of this market to create the 850,000 jobs.

Of course, the government and private businesses need to begin to act now to get a piece of the foreign clean tech pie. The WWF report suggests that two things need to happen:

  1. The U.S. needs to maximize and accelerate market development; carefully targeted public finance is critical.
  2. The U.S. must adopt a comprehensive climate and energy law putting a declining limit on carbon pollution.
Without these changes, the U.S. will have little chance of catching up with China and Europe in the worldwide clean energy race. The WWF reports cites a 2010 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts that shows that the U.S. has fallen to 19th place among G-20 countries when looking at total clean technology product sales per unit of GDP in 2009. This is just unacceptable.

Last year China’s growth in the clean energy industry allowed the country to achieve renewable energy capacity that is equal to that available in the United States. However, China’s worldwide clean energy investments tops all other countries, including the U.S.

To make matters worse, the U.S. is the largest importer of renewable energy products. Where are these products coming from? Europe and Asia.

“Globally, only one of the top five wind turbine manufacturers and one of the top 10 solar panel manufacturers are American (Hogan, 2010). According to Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) report on trade in environmental goods and services (EGS), the U.S. trade deficit in renewable energy products increased 1,400 percent to $5.7 billion between 2004 and 2008.” Source: WWF

By turning things around and becoming a leading clean energy exporter, the United States could realize up to 850,000 new long-term jobs over the next several decades. In addition to creating new jobs, a stronger renewable energy industry will also lead to lower energy costs for consumers and business — an economic win-win.

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