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the economic benefits of investing in clean energy

the economic benefits of investing in clean energy

This report, titled "The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy: How the Economic Stimulus Program and New Legislation Can Boost U.S. Economic Growth and Employment," was produced by the Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute, and explores how investments of $150 billion per year in energy efficiency, building retrofits, clean technologies and public transportation can create 1.7 million new jobs.

From the executive summary:

The United States in the 21st century faces an enormous challenge -- successfully managing the transformation from a predominantly carbon-intensive economy to becoming a predominantly clean energy-based economy. The reality of global climate change due to rising carbon emissions makes it imperative that the U.S. economy dramatically cut its consumption of traditional fossil fuels, the primary source of carbon dioxide (CO2) delivered into our atmosphere by human activity. Rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is in turn the primary cause of global warming.

This economic transformation will engage a huge range of people and activities. But there are only three interrelated objectives that will define the entire enterprise:

• Dramatically increasing energy efficiency.

• Dramatically lowering the cost of supplying energy from such renewable sources of energy as solar, wind and biomass.

• Mandating limits and then establishing a price on pollution from the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas.

It is crucial for economic policymakers and the American people to understand the likely effects of these three overarching objectives as much as possible. Specifically, we need to gauge our success in curbing CO2 emissions alongside the broader effects on the U.S. economy, particularly on employment opportunities, economic growth and people's incomes.

This paper examines these broader economic considerations -- jobs, incomes, and economic growth -- through the lens of two government initiatives this year by the Obama administration and Congress. The first is the set of clean-energy provisions incorporated within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, initiated by the Obama administration and passed into law by Congress in February. The second is the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), which is now before Congress.

Our analysis in this paper shows that these two measures operating together can generate roughly $150 billion per year in new clean-energy investments in the United States over the next decade. This estimated $150 billion in new spending annually includes government funding but is notably dominated by private-sector investments. We estimate this sustained expansion in clean-energy investments triggered by the economic stimulus program and the forthcoming American Clean Energy and Security Act can generate a net increase of about 1.7 million jobs. This expansion in job opportunities can continue as long as the economy maintains a commitment to clean-energy investments in the $150 billion per year range. If clean-energy investments expand still faster, overall job creation will increase correspondingly.

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