Thursday, 11 September 2008

Going green creates more jobs

I have long admired those few governments that have taken a 'whole of society' view when doing the sums on sustainability, rather than caving in to simplistic lobbying that we can't afford to spend on going green. As usual, the US comes late to these sorts of ways of thinking, but when it does, it does it with a bang of big bucks.

New Scientist reports that the steelworkers' union has submitted a report to the government pointing out the economic benefits of improving the performance of buildings and infrastructure, rather than directing similar spending on other economic stimulus measures. Leo Gerard, international president of United Steelworkers proposes that:
A $100 billion US government investment over two years could create 2 million "green" jobs in such industrial sectors as steel and construction, according to environmental and labour groups.
The information comes from a report commissioned by a think tank called the Center for American Progress. John Podesta, president of the think tank and a former Clinton administration official, is quoted as explaining: $50 billion of the investment would be tax credits to help private businesses and homeowners pay to make their buildings more energy efficient; $46 billion would be in the form of direct government spending on retrofitting buildings, expanding mass transit and freight rail, making "smart" electrical grids and new investment in renewable energy; and $4 billion would be in federal loan guarantees.

To put the amount in perspective, Podesta compares it to the stimulus program put into place in the US in April 2008 to boost the economy by providing tax rebates to taxpayers and tax incentives to businesses. That initiative was costed at US$168 billion.

Much as I cringe at the apparent simplistic arguments, I know that Al Gore did more to put climate change on the international agenda than the previous twenty years of pleading by more sophisticated experts, and some responsible governments. Therefore, I am pleased to see sentiment in the US beginning to line up with the irresistible logic that spending on sustainable development is a much better way of managing the future than persevering with boosting economies by gratuitous consumption.

Read the original article at

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