Sunday, November 2, 2008

Green Mayors for Green Jobs

Global Insight, in a report (PDF) prepared at the behest of the US Conference of Mayors, defines and quantifies the existing green job sector and projects more than fivefold growth over the next 30 years:

Global Insight estimates there are currently 750,000 green jobs in the U.S. economy, with 85% of them in metropolitan areas. The jobs are in varied categories including renewable power generation, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, research, consulting, and engineering, among others. Over the next 30 years, Global Insight projects potential growth of 4.2 million new green jobs assuming a significant increase in electricity generated from renewable resources, investment in energy efficiency in the residential and commercial sectors, and increased production of renewable transportation fuels.

The forecast assumes that, by 2038, the U.S. will generate 40% of its electricity from alternative fuels (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass), that 30% of fuel used in cars and light trucks will come from alternatives to gasoline and diesel, and that electricity use in existing buildings will drop by 35%.

The 750,000 current green jobs represent a mere 0.5% of all US jobs. Of that figure, according to the report, 418,000 are in engineering, legal, research and consulting, 127,000 in renewable power generation, 72,000 in (no kidding) "government administration," 60,000 in manufacturing, 58,000 in agriculture and forestry, (only) 9,000 in construction and installation, and 6,000 in sales and distribution. To compare, 2.2 million jobs have been lost overall in the US in the past 12 months.

The USCM represents the (currently 1,139) cities in the United States with populations of 30,000 or more. The top 10 US cities ranked by current green jobs (and showing the potential number of green jobs they could have by 2038 according to the report) are:

  • New York (25,021/197,971)
  • Washington (24,287/192,165)
  • Houston (21,250/168,136)
  • Los Angeles (20,136/159,321)
  • Boston (19,799/156,660)
  • Chicago (16,120/127,545)
  • Philadelphia (14,379/113,772)
  • San Francisco (13,848/109,570)
  • San Diego (11,663/92,285)
  • Pittsburgh (9,627/76,174)

The potential future green jobs include an estimated 1.23 million jobs related to renewable energy production, 1.5 million jobs in alternative transportation fuels, 1.4 million jobs in engineering, legal, research and consulting positions, and 81,000 jobs from commercial and residential retrofits, according to the study. 85% would be in urban areas.

The report concludes:

The United States is clearly heading toward a new era in terms of its energy policy, energy infrastructure, and energy-based economy. Elected officials at all levels of government and private markets are both gearing up for massive investments in new alternative fuel technologies and in increased energy efficiency. There are many Green Jobs in our economy already, but that figure stands to grow tremendously over the coming years due to market forces, legislation, and local initiatives, or some combination thereof. The vast majority of Green Jobs are not location dependent, so future Green Jobs will be located in cities and metropolitan areas that are currently the most attractive for investment, or in areas that actively increase their attractiveness relative to competing areas. The good news is that traditional industries continue to be replaced by new opportunities, and we have only just begun to tap into many of them.

At the release of the report last month, USCM President and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz stated:
We are firmly convinced that what we need in this country is a green revolution.
This report proves that being green is not optional, it is necessary for a
healthy and robust economy. Creating green jobs is an investment we must
continue to make.
Yes, not optional. Creating green jobs needs to be a national priority as it addresses our three current and enormous problems: energy, climate change, and the economy.
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