In his most concrete policy proposal since the November election, President-elect Barack Obama last week said his administration will “mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”
Obama said that will “start” with a federal cap and trade system to reduce global warming pollution, an approach that could create millions of jobs in the U.S.
If you’re wondering what those jobs are, how will they be created, and who will get them, check out a just-released report from Duke University that for the first time pinpoints the direct link between climate change solutions and U.S. workers.
The report was sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund, along with the Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO), Industrial Union Council (AFL-CIO), International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters.
In short, it officially ends the "green jobs" guessing game. Until now, there was no tangible evidence of what green jobs are and what they mean for U.S. companies. By analyzing the supply chains that provide the parts and labor for climate change solutions like advanced lighting, high-efficiency windows, even trucking, Duke has identified the real opportunities for job creation in the heart of U.S. manufacturing.
To put the supply chains behind clean energy technologies in perspective, a single wind turbine has more than 8,000 parts: cement, steel, ball bearings, copper wiring, and more. Demand for clean energy instantly creates new markets, new customers and new jobs for the companies and workers who make them.
It’s clear evidence that a federal cap and trade system, which will spur large-scale development of clean energy technologies, can revitalize American manufacturing and the U.S. economy. President-elect Obama had it exactly right when he said America’s leadership will begin with cap and trade, and dealing with our economic, energy, and environmental problems together makes perfect sense.
The decisions the next President and Congress make in the first crucial months of next year will determine the course of U.S. leadership for decades to come. Those that lead in inventing and deploying clean-energy technologies will be the great powers of the 21st century.
The United States has already dropped to fifth place in solar-cell manufacturing, behind Japan, Germany and most recently China, which tripled production last year. Nine of the world’s 10 largest photovoltaic manufacturers are in Europe or Asia.
It’s time for the U.S. to get back in the race.