Will Green Jobs Win?

Five years ago, green jobs were in nobody’s dictionary. This fall, these two magic words may keep critical climate legislation alive in California.

One of the little-recognized victories of the climate movement has been a dramatic reframing of the debate around environment and economy. Right now, the fossil fuel industry is pouring tens of millions into California, trying to revive the prevalent 1990s view of a jobs-versus-environment trade-off, and repeal the state’s climate cap-and-trade law.  But this time, Silicon Valley—in part of a broad coalition including many businesses–is in the fight on the other side, under the banner of green jobs.

There is no state election more critical this year. A green jobs victory in California—against well-funded opposition, and in the teeth of the economic melt-down—will signal a tremendous shift in attitude about jobs and the environment, and initiate the first serious climate policy in the US.

I have been working on jobs-environment issues since the early 1990s. Recently, colleagues and I at E3 Network have put together a fact-sheet on Climate Policy and Jobs: An Update on What Economists Know. This brief discusses how green jobs really are different than plain old jobs. If pursued aggressively, a green jobs strategy might help pull us out of the recession.

Eban Goodstein
Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy

Read more from Director Goodstein.

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