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The US Clean Energy Future will create more than 500,000 jobs each year

By Dr Anthony Horton

I wanted to start 2016 on a positive note, and thankfully I have found just the report to do that. A collaborative report by Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) and 350.org based on research from Synapse Energy Economics (SEE) in the United States provides a road map for energy efficiency and renewable energy. It presents a practical realistic way by which the US can end its contribution to global warming. The Clean Energy Future: Protecting the Climate, Creating Jobs and Saving Money report claims it will achieve the following four important goals by 2050:

  • transform the US electricity generation and supply system by halving coal fired power generation by 2030 and completely eliminating it by 2050
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 86% below 1990 levels
  • reduce expenditure on electricity, heating and transportation by $78 billion
  • create more than 500,000 jobs each year.

The additional jobs will largely be in the manufacturing and construction sectors according to the report. In addition, growth in those sectors will help to counteract the growing inequality within the American labor market. Deliberate policies are needed to create new opportunities and pipelines for groups that have tended to be excluded from higher wage jobs the most. As part of the research for the report, SEE examined the entire electricity generation and supply systems, light vehicle transport (e.g. cars and light trucks), space and water heating and waste management. It assumes that petrol fueled light vehicles and the majority of space and water heating will be fueled entirely by renewable energy.

Three challenges are discussed in The Clean Energy Future report. Firstly, as greenhouse gases precipitate an increase in surface temperature, the way we use fossil fuels is disrupting climate systems that have allowed human civilisations to prosper. Secondly, as high paying and stable jobs continue to disappear, attaining middle class lifestyle is becoming less likely for an increasingly large percentage of US people. Lastly, the majority of people can’t afford and few people are willing to consider costly solutions to economic or environmental issues.

With respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a reference case was modeled alongside the Clean Energy Future strategy. The reference case includes policies that were implemented prior to the USEPA Clean Power Plan (which was announced in August this year) and assumptions from the Annual Energy Outlook prepared by the US Department of Energy. The Clean Energy Future scenario assumes that present renewable energy trends will continue and accelerate as a result of additional policies.

Compared to the numbers of jobs required for the business as usual reference case (in terms of fossil fuel fueled power), far more jobs will be required in energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy production and the manufacture of electric vehicles. The average net gain in jobs from 2016 to 2050 is 550,000 per year, although from 2016-2020 approximately 200,000 new jobs per year are expected. In the period 2046 to 2050, up to 800,000 jobs new jobs per year are expected.

In terms of a timeline from 2016-2050, energy efficiency initiatives will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs initially, followed by another wave in the 2020s as a result of renewable energy programs being implemented. As part of this job creation prediction, wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable energy equipment will be constructed, installed and maintained. Increased employment in the motor vehicle industry is expected in the 2030s as electric vehicles become a critical part of the emissions reduction scenario. In the 2040s, the strategy extends for jobs to be created by net energy savings which are spent on other purchases.

Over the next 35 years, a predicted $78 billion in energy savings from The Clean Energy Future scenario represents $7 per person per year. Compared to the reference case, The Clean Energy Future spends more on energy efficiency and renewable energy and less on fossil fuels, upgrades and pollution controls at existing power plants. In doing so, it advocates a faster adoption of low cost resources that have been under-utilised in the existing market. Replacing fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives also boosts local employment.

Energy efficiency programs employ large numbers of staff in the construction phase when insulation is installed and other measures are being implemented. Manufacturing jobs will oversee the production of efficient lighting, appliances and other devices. Onshore wind turbines and photovoltaic infrastructure are projected to create 12 and 14 jobs for each $1 million of revenue respectively compared to coal fired plants that create 9 jobs for each $1 million of revenue.

rWdMeee6_pe About the author: Anthony Horton holds a PhD in Environmental Science, a Bachelor of Environmental Science with Honours and a Diploma of Carbon Management. He has a track record of delivering customised solutions in Academia, Government, the Mining Industry and Consulting based on the latest wisdom and his scientific background and experience in Climate/Atmospheric Science and Air Quality. Anthony’s work has been published in internationally recognised scientific journals and presented at international and national conferences, and he is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal Nature Environment and Pollution Technology. Anthony also blogs on his own site, The Climate Change Guy.

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  1. Sal Scilicet

    Excuse me. I don’t share these faux convictions. Do you have a problem with that?

    The tireless Climate Change devotees keep reciting, in perfect harmony, the tried and proven mantra about scientific evidence. It’s beautiful. Very like one of those magnificently resonant, seemingly interminable Gregorian Chants. Albeit emanating exclusively from the hallowed halls and ivory towers of the Academy. Meanwhile, the object of all that sacred veneration, Science, remains quite unmoved. And, it must be said, perfectly irrelevant. That the climate is changing was never in any doubt. The common people, on the land, the profoundly illiterate, Great Unwashed, have always known, thanks to a frankly primitive adherence to centuries of indisputable folklore. When great grand-parents and their forefathers told stories, about failed harvests, merciless drought, Biblical floods and unforgettable winters. The people have always known that the climate is not something you can rely on. “Fickle as the weather.”

    But why get upset? The question is not whether the climate is changing. Nor even whether that is desirable. No, the real point at issue, the thing that really exercises all this faux Moral-High-Ground sincerity, is that the climate should not change, but remain stable. Why? Nobody insists that “we’ve really got to do something about the earthquakes”. Our much-lauded scientists also tell us that, like it or not, we all live on tectonic plates, slip-sliding around all over the place. An astonishing revelation. The map of the world, as-we-know-it, wasn’t always this way. All the continents have always been, and still are, inexorably shifting about, slowly but surely crashing into each other … causing earthquakes. So much so, that regular tremors, which result in devastation enough, are infinitely preferable to The Big One. [Hey, California!]

    So. Are earthquakes a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, um, yes, and no. OK. But if earthquakes always cause death and devastation, with the attendant wholesale destruction of vast swathes of natural habitat, why aren’t We-the-People all out there right now, tirelessly and vociferously advocating doing something meaningful about that? Hint: Poor old, much-maligned, Cnut the Great, king of Denmark (990-1035 AD). The quintessential, all-time whipping boy, universal object of derision, for having ostensibly tried to stop the tide. When in fact, it turns out he merely wanted to demonstrate, relying implicitly BTW on empirical, scientific evidence, that he was not nearly quite as powerful as was innocently and persistently noised abroad.

    Why don’t we stop the Earth quaking? Your answer will tell you something about the futility of trying to ‘arrest climate change’. The very same scientists, 96% of whom are ad nauseam alleged to have sold their soul to the cause of “The Scientific Consensus that THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED”, cannot deny [because they know that you and I know], that nature frankly abhors stability. This is plain scientific dogma. Since the Big Bang, the entire universe has been and continues evermore in a constant state of flux. Why, you yourself know that your own body is always changing. Or have you changed your mind? Your backyard isn’t what it used to be. And not only because you’re incurably lazy. If the entire biosphere were not subject to constant change, including the climate, we would not have evolved. Our planet would be as lifeless as Mercury, Venus and Mars. It was change that produced life and It is constant change that perpetuates the inexorably slow process of evolution.

    But, if your backyard really is all overgrown with weeds, that you really mean to “do something about one of these days”, what does that tell you about the genuine resolve of “We-the-People” to stand-as-one, to “do something about climate change”? Nevertheless, The Climate Change Lobby, nothing daunting, confidently and emphatically rests its case on the scientific evidence, irrelevant as that particular boondoggle patently is. Evidence? You want evidence? I’ll give you evidence.

    Sandy Hook. If the casual massacre of twenty schoolchildren and six of their teachers charged with their protection, fails to galvanise, with the moral conviction of every bereaved mother, the good people of the United States [“home of the brave …”] to amend their blessed, immutable Constitution, how in hell do you expect “We-the-People” to come together to give up our collective addiction to hedonistic luxury? No. “We Are The People” is a vacant lot. A vacuous, throw-away populist slogan. Signifying nothing more than a pathetic euphemism for “we are the powerless, we are the numberless, we are the leaderless herd of sheep, bleating in the wilderness”.

    You preach bio-diversity. Yet you expect seven billion diverse individuals – all of them multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual – each of whom differs from the other as you yourself differ from each of your own siblings, to march resolute in lock-step, to arrest a natural phenomenon as pervasive and irrevocable as climate change. This is fascism. The road that leads straight to Auschwitz.

    You preach freedom of speech. Yet you do not hesitate to stifle debate. By you howling, you seek to silence all patient, ineluctable dissent. You scientific hypocrites, brood of vipers. How soon have you forgotten Galileo: “Still I say it moves”. This is wilful blindness, the white-hot passion of a regular lynch-mob. This is the road to ruthless, fundamentalist extremism, the Grand Inquisition and the Crusades.

    How many people now living [in a manner of speaking] on this delightful little planet, still lack, as we speak, access to clean drinking water? How many have no fully functioning bathroom? [Where women have no choice but to wait all day, to finally hunker down in the dark, to attend to bodily functions and give birth behind a bush.] How many lack access to electricity? Show me the populist movement, whose sole raison d’être it is to finally ensure that every child born on the planet has access to clean water, proper sanitation, decent shelter, a useful education and protection from exploitation. Then I’ll not rest. For then I may go to my grave, knowing that “We the People” really do share a commonality of purpose. That “Humanity” really means what every fresh-faced generation fain would have it so aver. Your time starts now.

  2. Marcus

    Dr Horton,

    Thanks for bringing to our attention some good news in what sometimes looks like a veritable forest of bad news items we are confronted with every day when it comes to climate change. As for Sal…it is very hard to know where to start. Putting aside the lack of a clear indication as to the point of your rant, I can only conclude however you are in the “nothing to see here its all part of the natural processes, do nothing camp”.

    Thankfully you are a dying breed…please step aside and let the rest of us try and do something about the most incredibly risky global experiment ever conducted. Furthermore, suggesting that anyone is advocating for only doing something about climate while also not addressing all the other social and economic issues you allude to only shows your lack of awareness, let alone the deep interconnected nature of these issues. Climate change is likely to disproportionately impact the poorest people, with very severe and significant knock-on effects in terms of food production, access to clean water, and energy access…and quite frankly only shows the limited nature of your thinking.

    As for your reference to people such as Dr Horton stifling debate, and the whole tone of your “give up now its pointless” diatribe…well its so preposterous and singularly depressing as to be not worth responding to in detail. I would also suggest you need to get out more, look at the sunrise, get some air, take a deep breath, and try smiling…I am betting you have not done that in a long time. Your time starts now.

    Thanks again Dr Horton and the rest of us will keep up the good fight, obviously it is far from over.

    Marcus

  3. Sal Scilicet

    As usual, the evangelist doesn’t believe the veracity of his own gospel. But that’s OK, because that’s not what this is about. No, this is not about the usual prophets of doom declaring “the end is near”. They don’t really care about the impenetrable intricacies of “anthropogenic climate change”. Something else is going down here.

    Something very ancient and primordial, to do with primitive ritual and overt display. Traditionally this was intended to secure breeding rights, or some perceived political advantage, as a prelude to regular, everyday violence and bloodshed. We’ve come a long way … but old habits and all that.

    The usual patronising condescension, preceding the same hackneyed rhetoric and pseudo-scientific jargon is a dead give-away. What we are seeing here, ad nauseam on the Internet these days, has more to do with the old schoolyard “mine is bigger than yours”, or “my dad can lick your dad any day”. Nothing serious, pretty harmless really. Boys will be boys … although it must be said, some of the more [shall we say feisty?] girls are also beginning to get the hang of making with the hubristic bravado.

    Which, of course, doesn’t make one blind bit of difference to the overall scheme of things. I think it’s due to the Neolithic. Once Homo Sapiens had figured out how to plant crops, domesticate herds and accumulate surplus, the inevitable surfeit of protein had the consequence of enlarging the brain. Already, our women are having a bugger of a job to give birth to these big-headed babies. But, not to worry.

    Evolution comes with built-in self-limitation factors. The more sophisticated all us clever little anthropogenic bright buttons became, scurrying all over the planet, what with bothering God and fussing over extinctions of species, the less chuffed we grew to want to spend much time raising a bunch of unruly kids. Already, Germany was happy to accept one million refugees last year, to replace the dwindling workforce. It’s estimated that China, thanks to its ill-fated one-child policy, will have run out of workers by 2050.

    You know, I have visions, as I lie awake nights, pondering these enigmatic mysteries, of unseaworthy boatloads of American and European unemployed desperately trying to reach China for a job. [Maybe even some of these Aussie layabouts, unless they’re out surfing or still playing cricket.] You know, a sort of deja vu. Along the lines of, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Make no mistake, I entertain no pretensions to Orwellian prescience. But I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that was “The Next Big Thing”. For the regulation fifteen minutes, of course.

    Meanwhile, real Science carries on, as before, concerning itself with serious research, asking the really important questions, not preaching doctrinaire dogma. Where’s that George Carlin? “The planet’s doing fine. The people are f*cked”.

  4. totaram

    Actually, unless Sal is posting under the influence of some psychoactive substance, I think he/she needs good professional help. That is the best I can suggest by posting here.

    Yes, indeed, the real science carries on. Bigger blades for wind-turbines and synthesis of methanol from Carbon dioxide have been developed. Batteries for power storage continue to get cheaper and more efficient and longer lived. And, as Drt. Horton tells us, many jobs in these industries will be created, irrespective of what else happens, and the trend is accelerating. Dr. Horton is a scientist, well-versed in the methodology of research, and so am I. Science is actually a social enterprise. We may not have addressed the “really important questions” but we do our little bit.

  5. Sal Scilicet

    Gosh, if I were Dr Horton, I’d be embarrassed and ashamed to have such ham-fisted lieutenants as my valiant apologists. Honestly, why demean yourself by resorting to such crass, ad hominem invective? Don’t you realise how desperate that sounds? And so disturbingly familiar, too. Where have we heard this before? This reckless use of vile oblique allusions to psycho-social degeneracy and the need for professional help for a deranged misfit, in a pathetic attempt to intimidate your critics by designating them as “Untermenschen”?

    Why not politely acknowledge what all conscientious scientists have always understood? Namely, the supreme difficulty of disseminating with optimum clarity the detail of your research to an unsophisticated audience. Especially acknowledging how important it is always to show the utmost respect for your detractors, those of little faith, on whom you utterly depend, if you hope to at least earn their rapt attention.

    Why not politely acknowledge the difficulties I have enumerated. That nature abhors stability. That, in this Universe we are all living on borrowed time, perched precariously on randomly dislocated tectonic plates. That the climate has never remained constant in all of the geological past. That the variously disparate peoples of the world have never acted in concert, for any political or moral ideal. That there are more urgent crises crying out for concerted remedy. [The desperate plight of refugees. And the critical need for clean drinking water, sanitation and electricity for the developing world. Another unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe is right now unfolding in Sudan, even as we speak.] Yet I am blithely told that I am potentially insane for even daring to bring this up. Irrelevant? To save the planet takes precedence? Or is it because that is easier? To preach to the gallery, rather than address real emergencies as they unfold.

    Honestly, excruciating as it is to have to say this, as an ordinary human being, I cannot imagine, quite frankly, that Dr Horton, if he has any ethical sense of proportion at all, would appreciate this sort of despicable denigration of genuine expressions of concern from an articulate, well-intentioned member of the public, perpetrated in his name by such unprincipled zealots.

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