Taking up a new way of doing things isn’t easy in the best of times, so it’s no surprise that the ongoing fiscal crisis complicates efforts to promote the so-called green economy.
Yet considering the potential gain, pushing ahead seems to make sense. As the New York Times recently reported, a study released on Monday found that California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007, while eliminating fewer than 25,000.
Among other things, the study by a University of California, Berkeley, economist “found that while the state’s policies lowered employee compensation in the electric power industry by an estimated $1.6 billion over that period, it improved compensation in the state over all by $44.6 billion.”
So what’s the way forward?
This will be the topic of much discussion during the latest incarnation of Bioneers by the Bay, which its organizers call “the Northeast’s premier conference on the environment and social justice.” It takes place from Friday, October 24 through Sunday, October 26 in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
According to the conference Web site (connectingforchange.org), “Over 2000 students, teachers, green business innovators, scientists, grassroots leaders and everyday folks from across the East Coast will gather to embrace, share, brainstorm, network, heal, learn, teach, celebrate, recharge and connect for change. We will roll up our sleeves and harvest tangible, practical solu-tions to the specific challenges we face here in the Northeast and the world at-large.
“We have planned a rather remarkable three days of live keynote presentations, afternoon workshops, an extensive Youth Initiative program, a downlink of the 19th Annual Bioneers Conference in California [www.bioneers.org], an exhibition hall featuring sustainable businesses and organizations, a community action center, films, music, art installations, a farmers’ market and local & or-ganic food.”
Environmentalist Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy (Harper One, 2008), is among those slated to take part.
With an op-ed in Monday’s ProJo, Jones pointed to the benefits of Green jobs: “A new report, entitled, ‘US Metro Economies: Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy,’ re-leased by the US Conference of Mayors, says that we can create over 4 million green jobs if we aggressively shift away from traditional fossil fuels toward alternative energy and a significant improvement in energy efficiency.”
Ultimately, he wrote, “[R]eal leadership is required from the top. The next president could have a dramatic impact. Green For All (the organization I lead) and our partners are proposing that he establish a national Clean Energy Corps. Its goal would be to finance the retrofitting of the nation’s building stock, through a revolving-loan fund of $3 billion per year. It would create close to 120,000 green jobs a year (600,000 over five years) while lowering home-heating and electricity bills for homeowners and small businesses. The program would largely pay for itself in en-ergy savings within five years.”