By Lisa Jacobson
President Barack Obama took office in January amid the worst economic crisis this nation has faced since the Great Depression. As unemployment rises and businesses struggle, Congress and the Administration must enact bold solutions suited to our times—not a New Deal, but a Green Deal.
A Green Deal would revive the economy by directing massive new investment into cleaner, more efficient and reliable energy infrastructure. It would call for the rapid and aggressive deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency investments, a smarter energy grid and effective use of clean fossil fuels, such as natural gas.
In the short run, such investments would generate large numbers of high quality jobs in the clean energy sector, bolstering business suppliers, boosting consumer spending and lifting consumer confidence. Research conducted by the Apollo Alliance in conjunction with the non-partisan Perryman Group confirms that large but feasible investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency would add several million jobs over the next decade.
Long term, a Green Deal would help our nation meet growing demands for energy, reduce energy costs, and address the challenge of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Their analysis found that investments of $50 billion in renewable energy technologies could result in nearly 1 million new jobs; $76 billion invested in manufacturing of energy efficient durable goods would create over 900,000 new jobs; $90 billion directed to building energy efficiency would yield over 800,000 jobs; and $100 billion invested in public transit and transportation infrastructure would create over 650,000 new jobs.
In order to spawn additional jobs and stabilize the economy, Congress must support funding and incentives for:
· Building and business owners to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and efficient distributed generation systems
· Manufacturing facilities to re-tool using clean energy products and components
· States to invest in clean energy infrastructure and efficient transportation
· Investment in an improved, expanded and “smart” electricity transmission system
· Greater use of low emission vehicles, more efficient temperature control equipment and auxiliary power technologies to reduce idling in the transportation sector
· Workforce training and education relating to clean energy industries
· Improvements to the renewable energy tax incentives so they are able drive new renewable energy generation, given current economic conditions
In ordinary times, such a dramatic program to shift national priorities in favor of cleaner energy and a sustainable environment would face legitimate complaints about budget constraints and unwelcome deficits. But economists of almost every persuasion agree that now is the time to get the economy moving. Let’s turn this economic crisis into an opportunity to make a Green Deal with sustainable investments in a healthier, energy independent and more competitive nation.
Lisa Jacobson is the Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a coalition of clean energy business and trade associations representing the energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas industries in the United States.