October is Energy Action Month — a national effort to focus on the critical link between American energy and prosperity, highlight the tremendous potential of clean energy technologies to create new American jobs and industries, and underscore the importance of investing in American innovation to lead the 21st
On President Obama’s second Earth Day in office, how far have green jobs come toward fixing unemployment and environmental ills? The administration aims for 5 million green jobs to grow in the next 10 years. Should Americans still believe the “hype?” Here’s the latest in green jobs news from around the Web:
The White House early in 2009 announced $500 million for efforts to train green workers, and this January it described job-training grants worth $100 million of that package. But that’s not nearly enough cash for an effort that should be as big as the Space Race, says pundit Jesse Jenkins. And contrary to conventional wisdom, green jobs are already being exported beyond U.S. borders.
For now, “fewer than 200 factories in the United States are devoted to green production, employing no more than 15,000 workers.” Companies can apply for new, federal tax credits to boost U.S. manufacturing, but an economist finds that “fewer than 500 applications have been filed so far for the tax breaks, and if all were approved they would add just 75,000 green manufacturing jobs.”
Yet, 10 percent of employers have added new, green jobs in the past year, according to a CareerBuilder poll of 2,700 hiring managers. Among the green occupations described as earning more than $60,000 on the job Web site are hydrologist, solar energy system designer, waste management engineer and urban planner. (However, CareerBuilder’s GoingGreenJobs site was kaput on Wednesday.)
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to solving crises in the economy, climate and security, said Al Gore on Friday (videos below).
The former vice president lauded fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama for efforts including an economic stimulus package with a significant renewable energy component.
“One way or another the reductions in emissions are about to accelerate,” said Gore at the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Madison, Wis. “What is important, directly or indirectly, is that we put a price on carbon.”
He expressed hope that the U.S. Senate will pass a bill similar to that of the House, even in advance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. “There is much more bipartisan dialogue behind the scenes than is publicly visible,” he added.
Slow down, high-speed rail seekers. In the race for stimulus money, the Obama administration has received applications from 24 states requesting $50 billion for high-speed rail projects, reports The New York Times.
That’s more than six times the amount of money designated. Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, told the Times that the selections will be merit based, and will be made this winter.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Utah Sen. Bob Bennett is involved in a fickle love affair with stimulus money. Two days before the Republican senator voted against the nearly $800 billion package – which he said would only stimulate the national debt – Bennett wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him to pay special attention to a few projects in Utah. He wasn’t alone, reports the Tribune. All four of Utah’s Republicans in Congress voted against the bill, before using congressional stationery to try to nab a portion of the stimulus package for their state.
The world stands to gain 6.9 million jobs by 2030 in the clean energy sector if a strong deal is reached in Copenhagen, according to a report released recently by Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual. Conversely, the global coal industry — which currently supports about 4.7 million employees worldwide — is likely to contract by more than 1.4 million jobs by 2030, due to rationalization measures in existing coal mines.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide will drop 3 percent in 2009, including a 5.9 percent decrease in the United States, as a result of the economic recession, according to energy forecasts.
A decrease in industrial activity accounts for three-quarters of the global emissions decline, the International Energy Agency reported at United Nations climate talks in Bangkok. The rest of the decline is the result of nations switching to renewable energy sources and nuclear power.
In the U.S., coal demand will likely drop 9 percent this year as electricity demand slips and more states switch to natural gas in the face of stiffer government oversight of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Economic recovery would likely reverse the trend, and the agency predicts a 1.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions in 2010.
Iraqi officials have endorsed a plan to convert dates into biofuel, an innovative project they hope will boost a once-thriving agriculture economy burdened by years of drought, government sanctions and war.
A United Arab Emirates-based company will produce bioethanol from the dates that farmers can no longer use because they are rotting, said Faroun Ahmed Hussein, head of Iraq’s date palm board.
The nation produces about 350,000 tons of dates annually, but consumes only about 150,000 tons.
One of the more common green stories over the last month has focused on the question of whether the poor economic conditions are going to dampen the clean tech industry. Other stories revolve around the new US administration’s policies.
There seem to be four main story lines:
Welcome to the era of declining oil supply, volatile energy prices, and increased emission of green house gases. We are sorry to report that the economy is not doing well, which will put a pinch on investing in both alternative and conventional energy sources. Unfortunately, the resulting higher energy prices will further negatively impact the economy.
A small shred of good news is that, collectively, modern renewables (as a source of electricity generated) are slated to grow the most and are poised to become the second-largest source of electricity soon after 2010. Unfortunately the IEA projects energy demand growth of 45% in the next 25 years with a 20% increase in the demand for oil.