Renewable Energy Could Create 1.3 Million Jobs in U.S.

Development of policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency could create 1.3 million new jobs in the United States by 2020, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-11-15 [SolarAccess.com] A total of 750,000 new jobs would be created over the next nine years, according to ‘Clean Energy: Jobs for America’s Future.’ Gross domestic product would increase by US$23 billion by 2010 and increase to $43.9 billion (net) by 2020. “This study shows that a responsible approach to energy policy can help us meet the challenge of climate change while still benefitting the economy and creating new jobs,” says WWF’s Brooks Yeager. “A serious and sustained national effort to improve the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks and buildings will offer us a better future with sustainable economic growth and allow us to conserve irreplaceable wilderness refuges for future generations.” A related benefit would be an additional $220 increase in annual wage and salary earnings per household by 2010, increasing to $400 per household by 2020. The study is based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s EIA energy outlook, and economic and employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Our national choices regarding the production and use of energy have serious implications for our environment,” notes the study. “At every step of the process from extraction, to refining, transport and combustion, fossil fuels have negative impacts on land and water-based ecosystems. In addition to these well-known effects, it is now clear that over-reliance on fossil fuels is a major cause of climate change.” The WWF study examines a Renewable Portfolio Standard as one policy to address the issue of energy supply, economic, employment, energy security and environmental concerns, but concedes that “some industries within the energy sector would not share in the economic benefits from this transition, as the economy’s reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels declines.” In addition to job creation, adoption of the WWF energy recommendations would allow the United States to reduce its carbon emissions by 8.5 percent by 2010 (compared with a projected increase of 20 percent) and by 28 percent by 2020 (compared with a 36 percent rise). Twenty percent of electricity generation in 2020 would come from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, while oil consumption would decline by 8 percent by 2020 rather than increase by 31 percent, saving money and reducing vulnerability to oil price shocks. Overall dependence on fossil fuels would decline 15 percent by 2020 rather than increasing by 40 percent, and homes and businesses would accumulate savings of $600 billion in that period. Each state would experience a positive net job impact, with California benefitting the most at 140,000 new jobs by 2020. The study applies a Renewable Portfolio Standard that starts with a 2 percent requirement in 2002, growing to 10 percent in 2010, and 20 percent in 2020. It assumes a subsidy to grid-connected generation, in order to introduce solar PV technology into the generation mix. The policies “would serve national interests in reducing American demand and, therefore, dependency on oil,” the document explains. “The study shows that these policies also create more jobs and offer greater economic benefits than can be generated by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge despite the unsubstantiated claims of drilling proponents.”

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