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Investing in Clean Energy Will Create Millions of Jobs, Increase GDP and Raise Household Incomes

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NextGen Climate America released a new report today, with economic modeling conducted by ICF International, showing that the transition to a clean energy economy will drive economic growth for decades, create well-paying jobs and increase household incomes.

The report, Economic Analysis of U.S. Decarbonization Pathways, finds that under the E3 scenarios of investing in clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. would add more than one million jobs by 2030 and nearly two million by 2050. By reducing emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, the U.S. would also increase GDP by up to $290 billion and raise household incomes—based on findings of an analysis of decarbonization pathways by E3.

The report finds that transitioning to a clean energy economy represents a significant opportunity to create millions of well-paying jobs. Photo credit: NextGen Climate America

“This report clearly demonstrates that shifting to clean energy would significantly improve our country’s economy for decades to come and create more well-paying jobs for American families,” said NextGen Climate America Founder Tom Steyer. “Transitioning to a clean energy future won’t just address the threat of climate change—it will put millions of Americans to work, raise household income and build an economy that works for everyone.” 

The report finds that transitioning to a clean energy economy represents a significant opportunity to create millions of well-paying jobs. By increasing energy efficiency and investing in clean energy, the economy will add more than a million net jobs by 2030 and up to two million by 2050—including as many as 1.2 million jobs in the construction sector as a result of building wind farms and solar power systems and modernizing existing buildings and infrastructure. 

As the transition to a clean energy economy creates more well-paying jobs, households will see their disposable income increase by $350-$400 in 2030 and by as much as $650 in 2050. Increased employment and higher incomes will help drive economic growth across the economy and in seven of nine census regions of the country. By 2030, shifting to clean energy will increase GDP by about $145 billion or a 0.6 percent increase compared to our current trajectory. By 2050, shifting to a clean energy economy will increase GDP by $290 billion or 0.9 percent compared to our current trajectory.

This study uses results from E3’s Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the U.S. report and a widely used macroeconomic model of the U.S. economy to analyze the potential economic impacts of two alternative pathways to a clean energy economy: a “high renewables case,” which includes significant investments in new generation from onshore wind, offshore wind, solar and electric vehicles; and a “mixed case,” which assumes a mix of renewables, nuclear and natural gas generation with carbon capture and storage. The study compares both potential pathways to a business as usual scenario. 

This study does not consider or incorporate the well-documented costs that climate change will have on our economy if it is left unaddressed and as a result almost certainly undervalues the economic benefits of transitioning to clean energy. Furthermore, it does not factor in the risk to our national security that inaction on climate change will pose. Even without these considerations, this study finds that transitioning to completely clean energy will strengthen America’s economy. By fully embracing the transition to clean energy under the “high renewables” pathway, the country could create the most jobs, drive the highest economic growth and significantly raise household disposable incomes. Notably, there are nearly twice the number of jobs created in the “high renewables case” as in the “mixed case by 2050.” 

Climate change is the gravest threat to our nation’s economy. But Economic Analysis of U.S. Decarbonization Pathways shows that addressing climate change through significant investment in clean energy is a positive economic growth strategy for the future.

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The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

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