Home Critical engine The United States is on the cusp of a clean energy revolution – we can’t leave anyone behind

The United States is on the cusp of a clean energy revolution – we can’t leave anyone behind


While transitioning our country’s economy from fossil fuels to clean energy is a daunting task, it has never been a better economic decision than it is now.

Clean energy is a major job creator in the United States, employing 3.2 million Americans and account for more than 40% of all energy jobs in the country. In 2021, jobs in the energy sector increased to a much faster pace (4%) than overall employment in the United States (2.8%). These jobs benefit both red and blue states: California, Texas and New York currently employ the most clean energy workers.

Clean energy jobs are set to grow even more in coming years thanks to massive investments in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that will inject billions of dollars into clean energy technologies, invest in grid updates and electric vehicles, as well as make the United States more competitive in global markets. Sectors of the U.S. economy will see job growth from these climate-smart investments, including in the buildings and power sectors through energy efficiency, construction of new infrastructure for production zero-emission electricity, grid modernization and electrification.

In reality, new analysis of the World Resources Institute finds that the United States can create nearly one million additional net jobs by 2035 from federal climate actions included in the IRA and IIJA compared to the status quo. But the impact on full employment can be significantly greater when taking into account the provisions related to the relocation of manufacturing of clean energy technologies, which could create up to 3.1 million additional net jobs in the world. during the same period.

With the long-term fiscal policy certainty offered by the IRA, major corporations have announced multi-billion dollar manufacturing investments across the country, including in states that have seen manufacturing declines over the past few years. last decades. Toyota recently announced a $2.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in North Carolina and First Solar announcement an investment of $1.2 billion to increase the production of solar energy technology. Hyundai is considering speed up your timeline build electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States to take advantage of the IRA’s EV tax provisions that require battery components and critical materials to be sourced from the United States or its free trade partners, with the final assembly of EVs in North America.

However, as the United States transitions to a clean energy economy, it is also important to consider sectors that are highly dependent on fossil fuels and will be impacted by the transition. Without policies incentivizing domestic manufacturing, the net employment impact of economy-wide decarbonization policies could be much smaller and some sectors, such as transport and fuels, will experience a net loss. jobs.

For example, electric vehicles are expected to require less labor to manufacture, assemble and maintain than internal combustion engine vehicles. While engines and transmissions for combustion vehicles are manufactured domestically, battery cells for electric vehicles are currently mainly produced overseas. Increasing domestic battery cell manufacturing capacity can generate jobs and economic growth, as well as offset some of the job loss in the traditional auto industry.

Similarly, the clean energy transition risks creating job losses in the fuels sector associated with oil, natural gas, coal mining and mining, as well as in wholesale trade, distribution and transportation of these fuels. However, we already know which counties and regions of the United States are vulnerable to a transition away from fossil fuels, making it easier to direct clean energy investments and appropriate policy solutions towards them.

Although federal decarbonization policies create positive net job benefits for the entire country, they must be complemented by targeted policies to avoid harming workers and communities closely tied to the fossil fuel industry. . An unmanaged transition will not only impose economic costs on vulnerable workers and communities, but it could also create opposition to climate action that could delay this crucial energy transition. By incorporating additional smart policies, such as those encouraging domestic manufacturing, targeting investment to energy communities likely to see job losses due to the transition, and demanding higher labor standards and worker protections, the IRA seeks to ensure that the clean energy transition will also be fair and equitable.

However, we must go further. Federal policymakers must build on the protections outlined in the IRA and develop additional policies that provide targeted support to communities and workers vulnerable to loss of jobs, public revenue and economic base due to abandonment. fossil fuels. Federal and state policymakers should also collaborate and co-develop clean energy projects with local communities to address concerns about pollution risks, ensure access to quality economic opportunities, and incorporate guidance on maximizing benefits. local benefits.

The United States has made impressive progress in stimulating the clean energy economy, but further action will be needed to achieve net zero emissions in the United States. lead to millions more clean energy jobs – promising that if done right, the clean energy economy can benefit all Americans and ensure a more prosperous and equitable future for the nation.

Devashri Saha is a senior partner at the World Resources Institute, USA. Follow her on Twitter:@Devashree_Saha

Dan Lashof is the director of Global Resources, USA. Follow him on Twitter: @DLashof