Green Jobs Remain the Bright Spot in the Economy

 
Mar 8, 2012
By Beth Gunston

Green jobs have proven to be more than just a buzz term.  As the grip of the recession continues to hold, a new report just put out by visionary group Next 10 provides stats that this budding sector of the economy is holding firm.

As pointed out in a L.A. Times article:

“The report suggests that amid volatile prices and tight markets, green entrepreneurs and their products and services will become increasingly competitive. California’s strong foundation of environmentally focused innovation and research, as well as its early-adopter culture, will also help.”

This is also thanks in part to strong environmental incentives and regulations that make California a hub for green industries and business practices.  A great example is the renewable energy bill – SB 2X – that Brown signed last year which mandates that the state increases its supply of renewable energy to 33 percent by the year 2020.

But let’s not just leave it up to state government to encourage the perfect market place for green jobs.  Another report put out by Next 10 last year noted that:

“...if the federal government increases fuel economy standards by 4-6 percent per year starting in 2017, California would see the following impacts by the year 2025:

  •  “The addition of 38,000 to 236,000 jobs.
  •  “An increase in GSP of .82 percent to 1.31 percent.
  •  “A reduction of 8 percent to 19 percent of total GHG emissions.”

Or even better, the federal government can team up with the state government to promote job growth, as Governor Brown and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced they would do back in January of this year.  They signed an agreement that will help bring about the state’s renewable energy goals.  As stated in their press release, the agreement will:

“pave the way for more than a dozen utility-scale solar energy projects and more than 130 renewable power projects in California.... These projects...will generate thousands of construction jobs and power local economies.”

But green jobs aren’t just related to the renewable energy industry.  So what is a green job?  This is one of the most common questions about this somewhat nebulous term.  Next 10 describes what it calls the “Core Green Economy” as one that

“provides the products and services that enable the transformation toward a cleaner, more efficient and more competitive economy. The Core Green Economy consists of businesses that provide the products and services that:

• Provide alternatives to carbon-based energy sources

• Conserve energy and all natural resources

• Reduce pollution and repurpose waste

The Core Green Economy represents a diverse mix of industries.... [that] include energy generation and efficiency as well as transportation and water efficiency.”

And according to Phil Angelides, board member of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups and labor unions, green jobs are ones that will enhance the quality of life for Californians.  He sees a green job as one that

"has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.”

Green For All, the organization started by Obama’s former “green jobs czar” Van Jones is working to ensure that those usually marginalized from economic advancements are included in the green job movement.  They note that:

“most green collar jobs are middle-skill jobs requiring more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree -- and are well within reach for lower-skilled and low-income workers as long as they have access to effective training programs and appropriate supports.”

So while we wait for the rest of our economy to rebound, it's assuring to know that our efforts to establish solid environmental regulations here in California are a driving factor in growing new quality job markets that have something to offer all Californians. 

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