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.
Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy