Fighting Climate Change While Creating Jobs

Perhaps the most frequently-touted argument against federal action to prevent climate change is that climate legislation would supposedly kill jobs. Yet the fact is that by investing in clean energy stimulating the green collar economy, passing a climate bill would most likely create far more jobs than it eliminates. An initiative launched by one climate action group, the Consequence Campaign, is seeking to focus lawmakers’ attention on how a climate bill could protect Americans from the effects of climate change while stimulating the economy. Specifically, the campaign asks recent college graduates looking for work to submit their resumes to lawmakers and call for passage of a climate bill.

Currently climate change legislation is stalled in the US Senate, but initiatives like this could help bring it back to life. Though other climate bills have been proposed by senators in the past, the one with by far the most momentum at present is the American Power Act, sponsored by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). Analyses from the Peterson Institute and ClimateWorks estimate passage of the American Power Act would create between 203,000 and 440,000 more jobs each year, on average, than would be created without the American Power Act’s passage.

These are jobs that are desperately needed in this country, especially by recent college graduates. Part of the reason for the Consequence Campaign’s focus on the younger generation is that young people have people have been hit with disproportionate force by the economic recession; in 2009, 37% of US residents aged 18-29 were unemployed. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that students and young people have also been more vocally supportive of action on climate change than most other demographics.

It seems many young people understand that passage of a climate bill is not just about eliminating the causes of climate change; it’s a chance to create hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs, too. Over time the fossil fuel industries in the US have steadily shed workers as the country becomes reliant on foreign oil imports, and extraction of coal becomes more mechanized and less dependent on workers. Meanwhile the potential of green energy industries to employ US workers is exploding. Already the wind industry employs more people in this country than coal mining, despite the fact that wind still supplies a relatively tiny fraction of US energy demand.

The Consequence Campaign has made it easy for recent graduates across the country to personalize a cover letter and send in their resume, to be delivered to their US senators. With the Senate moving to consider climate legislation before the August recess, and President Obama showing signs that he’s ready at last to make a push for a climate bill, there could hardly be a better time to remind lawmakers that acting on climate change will help the economy, not just the environment.

If you are a recent graduate, consider submitting your resume, and asking for speedy passage of a climate bill. It could be your best chance to find a job doing good work for the climate.

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