While some may protest that policies to fight global warming only will hurt an already struggling economy, at least one study suggests an entirely different result.
“Energy Efficiency, Innovation, and Job Creation in California,” a study authored by U.C. Berkeley Professor David Roland-Holst with funding from Next 10, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, focused on innovation and the intersection between the economy, the environment and quality of life issues, finds that innovative energy-efficiency policies could be a job creator rather than a revenue drain.
The report analyzes the economic impact of the California Air Resources Boards’ past and future policies to reduce fossil-fuel-generated energy demand. The study examines the economy-wide employment effects of the state’s landmark efficiency policies over the last 35 years and forecasts the economic effects of significantly more aggressive policies proposed to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The report finds, among other things, that forward-looking energy-efficiency policies have created 1.5 million jobs with a total payroll of more than $45 billion and have saved California consumers more than $56 billion on energy costs.
The report adds that the economic benefits of energy-efficiency innovation have a compounding effect. The first 1.4 percent of annual efficiency gain produced about 181,000 additional jobs, while an additional 1 percent yielded 222,000 more. Existing energy-efficiency programs and proposed state climate policies will continue the structural shift in California’s economy from carbon-intensive industries to more job-intensive industries.
“This report provides hard evidence that energy efficiency and innovation can pave the way to economic security and growth,” said F. Noel Perry, Next 10 founder. “Whether or not we take that path depends on policy to encourage it.”