Green Jobs: Not Just Economic Projections

Marc Gunther was kind enough to write a post on his blog about our latest campaign for a carbon cap.  Unfortunately, he also called the green jobs debate “intellectually dishonest.”  Below, Environmental Defense Fund’s Executive Director, David Yarnold, replies.


Glad to see more attention to this issue as Congress gears up for its historic effort to pass a cap on carbon emissions. Opponents are hard at work to limit public debate to one side of the ledger; we’re shining the light on the other.

What we’re not doing is predicting the number of jobs a cap will create. Better yet, we’re showing the jobs that are here right now. We’re showing the people that want them, and businesses that are ready to create more of them when Congress caps carbon. You can see them for yourself at

One of the thousands of companies you will find there is Dowding Machining, which is putting hundreds of laid-off autoworkers back to work building wind turbines in Michigan — the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Mayor John Fetterman, featured in our ads, wants to do the same thing for steelworkers in Braddock, Pa.

How many jobs will we create? It’s up to us as a nation. Will we take the lead, revitalizing existing manufacturing industries and creating new ones? Or will we settle for the status quo, see our factories shuttered, and end up importing the low-carbon technologies of the future from China and Europe?

For years, the U.S. was the worlds leading producer of solar cells, but now we rank fourth in production behind Japan, China, and Germany. They’re not the sunniest of places; they’ve just made renewable energy a priority.

What will the costs be? The transition to clean energy will not be free – but every credible economic analysis shows that our economy will enjoy robust growth under a carbon cap. And contrary to opponents who spent a decade trying to muddy the science on climate change (and having failed that are now trying to muddy the economics), household costs will be small – about a dime a day for household utility bills, based on Department of Energy estimates. That dime buys a lot: cleaner air, good jobs, less foreign oil, and a safe climate.

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  1. Posted April 17, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    You know I’m with you, David, in my belief that we need strong legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions. I don’t mean to comfort the deniers or the muddiers. And I hope you are right that regulation will create more green jobs than the “brown” jobs that could be lost. The evidence suggests that’s the case because today’s renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive than making electricity from coal or gas plants. But I have little to no faith in economic projections, particularly given how dynamic the changes ahead could be.

    My real worry is that EDF and other environmental groups are playing down the costs of climate regulation–rather than building support for the idea that we may have to pay a price. Maybe even more than a dime a day. We may have to make sacrifices. We need to be honest with one another about that. And I would hope Americans will be willing since, as you note, the benefits are so great–not just for us but for our children and grandchildren.

  2. Robert Exton
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    To say that Cap-and-Trade will create jobs is pure propaganda, because the opposite is true. The global warming hoax is nothing more than Cannibalism. It steals the time people spend at work and gives it to Government Bureaucracies that waste. For ever dollar the government takes in over 70% is wasted. There is not one politician that can give you the proven scientific proof that anthropogenic warming has been proven beyond a doubt. The reason being there isn’t any. Mankind could not change temperatures, even if we tried. So it comes down believe the lies and live in poverty, or fight the lies and return sanity to the world.

  3. makme01
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    I see there are mostly sheep in the world, who blindly believe and follow in a new religion of Climate change caused by humans. In my research humans cannot affect climate change even if we wanted to. The technology is not there,as well as no scientific proof of it. I am a scientist/Doctor. People need to read between the lines of what is said and read both sides of any issue,before believing in something. It is good to protect the earth from pollution, but come on folks, we breather out CO2. Are we going to have to commit mass sucide to save the earth? and for what?

  4. william
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 5:05 am | Permalink


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  5. Pierre Champagne
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    One of the major benefit of green jobs is that it is a growth sector of the future. It is one of the argument in support of adopting a structural strategy (see Cap-and-Trade Alternatives) as opposed to cap-and-trade.

    The US is loosing that battle at the moment. A more aggressive approach as the one suggested by Henderson (above) would benefit the country and greatly stimulate green growth.

    The other major advantage to green jobs is with respect to producing energy locally as opposed to importing it. Those are jobs that are going to stick around even when the fiscal stimulus money has gone.

    Tags: Global Warming Structural Strategies

  6. Posted June 12, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    There are plenty of things you can do as an individual, and a household, that can reduce the damage done to our environment.

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