Momentum Building for Green Jobs

We recently got some good news on the “green jobs” front.

 

A boom in solar and wind power jobs in the US led the way to a global increase in renewable energy employment to more than 8 million people in 2015, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

More than 769,000 people were employed in renewable energy in the US in 2015, dwarfing the 187,000 employed in the oil and gas sector and the 68,000 in coal mining. The gap is set to grow further, with jobs in solar and wind growing by more than 20% in 2015, while oil and gas jobs fell by 18% as the fossil fuel industry struggled with low prices….

Irena director general, Adnan Amin, said: “The continued job growth in the [global] renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector.” He said the increase is being driven by rapidly falling costs for renewable energy and expect the trend to continue as renewables become ever more competitive and as countries move to achieve the targets pledged in a global climate change deal agreed in Paris in December.

“Even without a price on carbon, renewable energy is competing with dirty energy and winning,” said Ben Schreiber, at Friends of the Earth US. “The question isn’t whether renewable energy supplants fossil fuels, but whether fossil fuels companies can delay the transition long enough to destroy the climate.”

This is exactly the kind of thing President Obama was hoping to build on when he outlined his vision of what would make the Paris Climate agreement a success.

And the key for Paris is just to make sure that everybody is locked in, saying, “We’re going to do this.” Once we get to that point, then we can turn the dials. But there will be a momentum that is built, and I’m confident that we will then be in a position to listen more carefully to the science — partly because people, I think, will be not as fearful of the consequences or as cynical about what can be achieved. Hope builds on itself. Success breeds success.

It’s also why Hillary Clinton’s $30 billion plan for revitalizing coal communities is so critical. The jobs in that industry are disappearing and will soon be gone forever. We need to not only support these communities through the transition – but also help them build for the future with renewable energy jobs. That is the future. There is no denying what is coming. The only question is whether or not we make this transition work for everyone.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.