Myth Buster – Clean and Renewable Energy will Eliminate Jobs and Harm the Economy

ActNeutral looks to reduce our community’s carbon footprint by supporting renewable energy and greenhouse gas capture projects. Outside of clean and renewable energy being climate friendly, it can also generate economic benefits, including more and higher paying jobs. Contrary to the thought that clean and renewable energy will eliminate jobs, many studies have shown that it will have a net positive impact on jobs. Let’s take a closer look and try to clear up the jobs myth.. We are sharing details directly from three great sources below to give you the published research facts. 

Job Creation per $1 Million of Investment Spending

The World Bank estimates that U.S. wind and solar creates about 13.5 jobs [each] per million dollars of spending… This is more than… the 5.2 jobs per $1 million for oil and natural gas, and more than… the 6.9 jobs per $1 million for coal.

A more detailed job analysis is provided by AltEnergyStocks, which finds 5.3 jobs per $1 million for fossil fuel investments, and a bit over three times this — 16.7 jobs per $1 million for clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy). Importantly, this analysis also documents the substantially higher quality and higher pay nature of clean energy jobs relative to fossil fuel employment.

Would Transitioning to Renewable Energy Hurt the Economy?

A question like this must first be placed within the context of why we need to shift to renewable energy sources. Unmitigated climate change poses an existential threat. Twenty-nine percent of all U.S. greenhouse emissions are produced from generating electricity — more than any other sector of the economy — with transportation close behind at 27 percent. So, addressing these emissions is critical to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.

Slowing climate change matters not just for our climate but for our economy. Seminal research on the economics of climate change by U.K. economist Nicholas Stern estimates the potential impacts of climate change to include a long-term 20 percent reduction in world gross domestic product (GDP)… With a 2015 world GDP of $74.15 trillion, the cost of not shifting to renewable energy is at least $15 trillion annually… 

The question is not whether we should transition to renewable energy, but whether the transition we must undertake will provide a net economic benefit or cost. As it turns out, the transition to renewable energy is likely to result in a net economic gain for our society.

Will Making Fossil Fuels More Expensive through the Affordability of Renewable Energy Kill Jobs?

Cutting fossil fuel emissions actually puts more people to work, at comparable wages, than business as usual [1]. Fossil fuel employment has been shrinking for years, mainly because of mechanization, not regulation. For example, in 1980, producing 100 tons of coal per hour required 52 miners; by 2015 that number dropped to 16. Even though more coal was being mined, coal mining lost 58 percent of its jobs between 1980 and 2015 [2].

In 2018, there were 2.4 million jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, compared to half that many in fossil energy [3]. Even without a price on carbon, installers and service technicians for solar and wind are forecast to grow 11 to 13 times faster than the U.S. average [45]. Also, the vast majority of energy sector jobs, such as electricians, power plant operators, riggers, etc., are needed for both fossil and non-fossil energy [1].

Our country will still need energy, whether it comes from low- or zero-carbon sources or from the old polluting sources of the past… Not only is renewable electricity already cost-competitive with fossil-generated power in many locations [67], it provides 50 percent more jobs, at similar pay, for the same amount of energy [81].

As more research is done on the negative consequences  of climate change it is becoming more evident that renewable energy will have a positive climate and economic impact. Renewable energy is becoming a lower cost, safer, and more economically positive alternative to fossil fuels. Helping support green energy solutions with certified carbon offsets will help continue accelerating the shift to more ubiquitous  renewable energy.

If you have other questions feel free to connect with us on Instagram @Act_Neutral or via email at community@actneutral.com

Sources

  1. “Occupational Employment Statistics.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2018). Fossil energy jobs averaged $25/h; wind and solar jobs averaged $24/h; nuclear plant jobs averaged $46/h; jobs that apply to all forms of energy averaged $28/h.
  2. Saha, D. and S. Liu. “Increased automation guarantees a bleak outlook for Trump’s promises to coal miners.” Brookings.edu (25 Jan 2017).
  3. “The 2019 U.S. Energy & Employment Report.” Energy Futures Initiative and National Association of State Energy Officials (2019).
  4. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Solar Voltaic Installers.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (19 Sep 2019).
  5. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Wind Turbine Technicians.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (19 Sep 2019).
  6. “Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018.” U.S. Energy Information Administration (Mar 2018).
  7. “Levelized Cost of Energy and Levelized Cost of Storage 2018.” Lazard Insights (8 Nov 2018).
  8. Wei, M., S. Patadia, and D.M. Kammen. “Putting renewables and energy efficiency to work: How many jobs can the clean energy industry generate in the US?” Energy Policy 38, 919-931 (2010).

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