Photo via USA
Looks like I spoke too soon about the words 'new report' always being a sign of bad news these days--because this new study reveals some pretty encouraging information. It's an analysis of clean energy reform by researchers at Yale, Berkley, and the University of Illinois which reveals that if its provisions are kept strong, a climate bill will expand the economy by over $111 billion by 2020, and create nearly 2 million jobs in the process. The study, Clean Energy and Climate Policy for U.S. Growth and Job Creation (pdf), assumes that the bills will be kept at least as strong on emissions targets (17% nationwide reductions by 2020, 83% by 2050) and renewable energy standards (mandate that utilities get at least 20% of electricity from renewable suppliers) and that there is strong continued funding for renewable energy research and development (Obama put 60$ billion into the stimulus bill, but more will be needed).
The study looks at the impact of the economies of each and every state--and finds that in each case, the effect is positive.
There are three main findings, all of them noteworthy:
- All 50 states can gain economically from strong federal energy and climate policy, despite the diversity of their economies and energy mixes . . . they all have substantial opportunities to grow their economies by promoting energy saving and domestic renewable energy alternatives.
- Contrary to what is commonly assumed, comprehensive national climate policy does not benefit the coasts at the expense of the heartland states. In fact, heartland states will gain more by reducing imported fossil fuel dependence because they are generally spending a higher proportion of their income on this low employment, high price risk supply chain.
- The country as a whole can gain 918,000 to 1.9 million jobs, and household income can grow by $488 to $1,176, by 2020 under comprehensive energy and climate policy . . . Indeed, a central finding of this research is that the stronger the federal climate policy, the greater the economic reward.
And that's really the takeaway here--as noted by the study, by "aggressively promoting efficiency on the demand side of energy markets, alternative fuel and renewable technology development on the supply side can be combined with carbon pollution reduction to yield economic growth and net job creation."
As of now, there's simply not a strong enough demand to reduce energy consumption. Companies can go on using dirty coal, whose cheap price, as we know, doesn't reflect its real cost. Once a cap is placed on the amount a company can pollute, many will be surprised to see how fast and easily some clean up their act--and save money by making their operations more efficient in the process. And this will stimulate a clean energy economy: jobs will be created for millions, from construction and weatherizing work to R&D; positions. The renewable energy sector will then flourish, becoming a robust, multi-billion dollar industry. Win, win, and--win.
But it all depends on a robust bill--here's to hoping legislators have enough courage to get one through the Senate.