Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace

Posted by Billie Gross
December 11, 2009
Rainbow Appears Over Wind Turbines in Palms Springs, California

Watch events live from the U.S. Center in Copenhagen. Follow the U.S. Center on YouTube and Flickr.About the Author: Billie Gross serves as Public Affairs Specialist for the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. She is currently on assignment at the U.S. Center in Copenhagen.

Today’s keynote event at the U.S. Center at COP-15 featured U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. An audience in Hong Kong joined attendees in the U.S. Center via digital videoconference, and a global audience participated via web chat. Secretary Locke’s presentation, “Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace,” emphasized how comprehensive energy reform is not just an important challenge we must face for our environment but an opportunity to reinvigorate economies around the globe and create new jobs.

President Obama’s historic $80 billion investment in clean energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is already stimulating clean energy development, deployment, and markets. These investments demonstrate to U.S. companies that sustainable growth is not just necessary to prevent the worst consequences of climate change but is also good for their bottom line.

As the Obama Administration continues to make investments for a new, prosperous and sustainable future, the U.S. Department of Commerce is working to support entrepreneurs all across America who are installing wind turbines and solar panels, developing improved batteries for hybrid cars, and putting the pieces of a next-generation electricity grid together.

During his presentation, Secretary Lock highlighted examples of how clean energy can start putting people back to work. Because of the energy-efficiency tax credits in the Recovery Act, Northeast Building Products in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has gone from one shift to three and increased sales by more than 33% since last year. Northeast has expanded its labor force from 180 to 268 and is producing 4,000 windows per week, compared to 2,500 per week a year ago.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a company called eTEC is using a matching Recovery Act grant for a pilot project that builds charging stations for battery-operated cars. The project will help create infrastructure to power as many as 5,000 electric vehicles in 11 cities across America. Most importantly, the project will allow eTEC to grow its workforce from about 30 employees to as many as 750.

These examples show how, even in difficult economic times, the potential of a new clean energy economy is providing hope across the United States.

Secretary Lock also talked about the importance of learning from what already works and fixing what doesn’t. President Obama has already proposed the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that this one step could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2050. This is an important step, but we have farther to go on this journey to a clean energy economy. Climate change cannot be solved by governments alone. We need the innovation of people and the ideas of entrepreneurs and inventors, because many technologies needed to cope with climate change simply don’t exist yet.

Secretary Locke’s presentation underscored that while discovering new energy solutions to mitigate climate change and create millions of jobs will not be easy, we most definitely have the talent, innovation and tenacity required to accomplish this lofty goal.



Tennessee, USA
December 11, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Gore was given some realistic time on David Letterman this past week and made some valid points.

It has taken much too long to understand that we were given Dominion over the earth and that somehow the aspect of dominion was lost, it means to TAKE CARE OF, not abuse. The earth is a living, ever changing and adaptive organism. It is now time for us to be adaptive as well. While I doubt seriously we can alter the natural transition of the earth's biological symbiosis and in the grand scheme of time that any changes we make at this point can honestly make an immediate difference, I do realize we must try to adapt to new methodologies.

In the long run all economies will be impacted by any changes made or not made. As Money is a constructive tool for mankind, its use also has to evolve and adapt.

We put money first when the price of petrol went down in the seventies over the same ideology. Today a change that is realistic and long encompassing is needed; but, it will take ALL NATIONS to be involved.

If China does not commit, it will simply be moving a problem from point A to point B.

milan m.
Virginia, USA
December 13, 2009

Milan in Virginia writes:

Transition to clean -- energy industry:

Pr Obama: "We can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the worldãs leading exporter of renewable energy... Nation that lead in Clean - Energy economy , will be Nation that lead in Global Economy".

According to the American Energy Information Administration (EIA) and to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world-wide energy consumption will on average continue to increase by 2% per year, what leads to a doubling of the energy consumption every 35 years.

In 2006, about 18% of global final energy consumption came from renewables, with 13% coming from biomass and 3% from hydroelectricity... Wind power is growing at the rate of 30% annually...

For Next Generation of Energy Technologies, USA will invest $ 150 billion over 10 yr in energy research and development to transition to clean energy economy...Recovery Act included more than $ 80 billion in clean energy investments, which will double our wind and solar energy production in three years.

During TRANSITION, we can use coal and nuclear capacity, but we need more:

* Photovoltaic power stations ( like De Soto , Solar E Center in Florida / PV system "trees"...);

* automotive biofuel / plug - in hybrids car and biofuel / plug-in car -stations in the States ;

* Biomass; Wave and Tidal power...

* The Solar Decathlon, DC, already show solar-powered houses ( in the future : BUILDINGS / clean INDUSTRIES ) that will be self-sufficient: energy-efficient houses can produce enough electricity and hot water from solar panels, to run modern home... This is particularly important because, today, "Homes and other buildings account for 40% of the energy we use in the USA- more than we use in transportation or industry"...

...but I think, that : 1."SMART MIX" of renewable E sources ( like : Mr. Mark Z. Jacobson has studing: wind, water and solar technology...) and 2. Energy STORAGES ( for clean E ); are the best options for our future.

- break our addiction to foreign oil - Manhattan or Apollo Project - to achieve energy independence:

1) America has to be 50 % more energy efficient by 2030;

2) we have to get at least 25 % of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025;

3) New standards for auto model year 2011: Congress has passed legislation to increase standards to at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020. That 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency for our cars and trucks could save over 2 million barrels of oil every day...and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions.

Pr Obama: "Today, let me put forward four pillars that I believe are fundamental to the future that we want for our children: non-proliferation and disarmament; the promotion of peace and security; the preservation of our planet; and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people".

milan m.
Virginia, USA
December 13, 2009

Milan in Virginia writes:

( part 2 )

A) ..."Nation that lead in Clean - Energy economy , will be Nation that lead in Global Economy".

B) We have to care / worry what kind of world we will leave to our children and next generations...

These questions are so important for our economy and for our national energy independence.

The Copenhagen international climate change: December 07. - 18. 2009. can find solution what to do with 30 billion tons of CO2 the human race produce every year by burning fossil fuels. Half of this is absorbed by oceans, plants and trees ... New Jersey shore is one of many examples how to store several hundred billion tons of CO2, by injecting CO2 into undersea rock...

"It said all countries together should reduce emissions by a range of 50 percent to 95 percent by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year".

A) Climate change for national security threats are real. Itãs rising concerns for world uncontrolled: worsening storms, droughts, floods, the increased spread of disease, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and more severe shortages of food and water...

( " In the past year, food insecurity has affected about 30 countries... The U.N. secretary general said there can be NO food security without climate security : One billion hungry people, that is one of every group of six persons in the world, 105 million more than in 2008, five children dying every 30 seconds... ( UN - Rome - climate change- 11.16.09. ).

Pr Obama : " No one nation is responsible for climate change, no one nation can address it alone... We can let climate change continue to go unchecked or we can help stop it...Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it -- boldly, swiftly, and together -- we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe."

* Ozone reductions (estimated to be ~1-3% globally) can cause environmental problems due to the increase in UV-B radiation. One such problem involves increases in skin cancer. It is known, for example, that more than 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are related to UV-B exposure. A 2% increase in UV-B is linked with a 2-5% increase in basal-cell cancer cases and a 4-10% increase in squamous-cell cancer cases. ( 1% depletion of ozone would cause an increase in skin cancer cases of ~20,000 per year...)

Secretary Clinton: "Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. The United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad.".


1. Eliminate greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere because of human activities, like: ozone depleting substances worldwide : HFCs ( Hydrofluorocarbons ) and other Fluorinated Gases ; than : Carbon Dioxide ( CO2 ) , Methane ( CH4 ), Nitrous Oxide ( N2O)... The largest contributing source of greenhouse gas is the burning of fossil fuels ( oil, gas, petrol, kerosene, etc.) leading to the emission of carbon dioxide, has been increased dramatically over the past 50 years. The long atmospheric lifetimes of some of the gases are : 100 years for CO2, 60-100 years for HFCs, 170 years for N2O, etc.

2. Pr Obama called to reduce USA greenhouse gas emission 80% and global emission 50 % by 2050.( (from 1990 levels). U.S. position for talks in Copenhagen is probable, 17 % reduction over 2005 levels of the domestic emissions of the gases by 2020. Pr Obama and his Team favored method for reducing carbon emissions was the creation of a cap-and-trade scheme...

3. We need to reach world agreement for low-carbon development...

4. Limit global warming to NO more than two degrees Celsius during 21 Century.

Global surface temperature increased 0.74 +/- 0.18 C ( 1.33 +/- 0.32 F ) during last century. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) report indicate that the global surface temperature will probable rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 C ( 2.0 to 11.5 F ) during 21. Century.

IPCC concludes that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation caused most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20 th century. Worming will be stronger in the Arctic...

( "The sea level rises for two reasons. Partly because of the melting ice and snow, and partly because of the thermal expansion of the sea. Thermal expansion takes a long time, but even an increase in temperature of two degrees Celsius is expected, in due time, to cause a rise in the water level of almost a metre".)

December 14, 2009

Mary in Switzerland writes:

Finding financial solutions to save our planet is possible.

A $2 per barrel tax by producers/nations would generate approximately $160 million each day globally. If the source country were to keep $1.25 of the revenue to invest in climate change mitigation or adaption technologies, it could donate to the global fund $0.75 which would amount to approximately $22 billion annually.

Nations importing crude could add a $1.50 per barrel tax and donate $0.75 to the global fund, generating approximately $17 billion. The price to consumers of a total $3.50 tax would increase costs by less than $0.30.

A similar tax system and distribution could be added to each MMBtu of natural gas and short tonne of coal.

Together these slight increases in energy prices would generate globally over a $100 billion to the global fund each year, and in addition, generate well over $100 billion in producing countries towards implementing mitigation, adaption and environmental technologies.

In addition to this economically sustainable tax system we would have a cap & trade system for other business sectors. If national governments were to price CO2 per tonne around $10 globally it would generate approximately $280 billion annually. Revenue could be disbursed in fifths; 2/5ths to national energy efficient and green projects, 2/5ths in low interest loans to businesses that have adopted efficient and sustainable practices for technology investments, and 1/5 to the global fund amounting to approximately $56 billion.

These systems together are easily affordable and would revive business activity and employment, yet at the same time provide annually well over $150 billion to a global fund. This fund could be dispersed with $70 billion annually designated to the least developed nations and to regions the most impacted by climate change. The remaining $80 billion of the annual revenue could go into a fund for climate-related emergencies for any country facing such a crisis, and to finance preventative projects of regional importance.

A sound financial structuring would create a ripple effect throughout economies worth trillions of dollars, not only in O.E.C.D. and advance developing countries, but also in underdeveloped regions.

Although it will take more than what has been outlined above, finding financial solutions is possible.

In addition, we will also need to draw into the energy transition today's energy providers. Finding solutions to stabilize the transition for this sector may include establishing a fair bottom price to various fossil fuels, and a framework concerning technologies. One example of a technology could be capturing carbon to be recycled into fuel-grade biofuels. Importing nations could initiate projects to capture carbon in liquid form and export it to producing nations for production purposes.

Energy multinationals, national energy companies and exporting nations could work out a transition plan to alternative fuels based on various technologies with a pricing system to maximize employment in their industry.

These actions together would significantly lower emissions and sequestering projects such as reforestation would further decrease emissions in our atmosphere.

This plan would dramatically increase financing for green projects in all countries.

It would help quell fears in regions the most impacted by climate change of forced migration.

It would provide the early workings of a technology framework for energy exporting, importing nations, multinationals and national energy companies to collaborate together in providing alternative energies of scale.

It would provide large funding for climate-related emergencies to all countries, and fund large projects to mitigate the effects of climate change regionally.

It would help mainstream emission reduction with very low interest loans to business.

It would reduce the rate of depletion of global reserves of carbon energies.

Lastly, it would promote sustainable global economic prosperity.

It is natural and instinctual for human beings to lend a hand to anyone in harm's way; this is the moral imperative of climate change. Finding financial solutions to meet these responsibilities is possible.

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