Strengthening Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability

Failing to address climate change is not only bad for the environment; it’s also bad for jobs. Multiple lines of research have shown that leaving climate change unaddressed will cause a net loss in in gross domestic product and jobs over the long run. In other words, our dependence on costly fossil fuels has put us on a path of unsustainable economic growth, and now is a better time than ever to get on the right track while putting workers back on the job.

By focusing on short-term job creation investments that promote alternative energy or maintain and expand water and recycling programs, we can lay the groundwork for such a shift. Not only we will accrue long-term public health and environmental benefits, but we’ll also fix some of the most gaping holes left in our labor market by the Great Recession.

Clean tech jobs, for example, are one of the fastest growing sectors in the green economy.  Driving demand for renewable energy such as wind and solar power can spur manufacturing growth, all while creating savings for households through reduced energy bills over the long-term.

  • Create Demand for Alternative Energy: Cities and states can do much to foster growth in renewable energy such as wind and solar power. Two cities in Ohio – Cleveland and Toledo – for example, have taken up measures to promote offshore wind development and solar power, respectively. States such as California have implemented strong renewable energy requirements to drive up demand and create jobs, while numerous cities – and, one state, Vermont – have used CLEAN programs to create and grow markets for utility companies delivering renewable energy.

  • Clean Up Water and Recycling Programs: Local communities face a crisis in dealing with the outputs of densely populated areas; our landfills are filling up and uncontrolled storm water carries chemicals and waste into our drinking water systems. Many communities are pursuing a variety of strategies to deal with these problems while creating jobs. Austin, TX has implemented pricing mechanisms that encourage recycling, and the Don’t Waste LA Coalition in California is advocating for policies that promote recycling by commercial property owners. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has developed an ambitious plan to address storm water runoff, while the state of Connecticut established a nitrogen credit to create an incentive to improve wastewater facilities.

Please see Filling the Good Jobs Deficit: An Economic Recovery Agenda for Our States and Cities, and sign up to receive monthly newsletters, for more information.