Transition to Clean Energy Will Create Jobs, Not Kill Them

October 14, 2015

A strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in addition to reducing the total costs of energy services and stabilizing the climate, according to new analysis released today.

This level of emissions reduction is consistent with the International Panel on Climate Change’s “80x50” target for high-income countries. The target, which represents the reduction that industrialized countries such as the United States will have to achieve to keep global average warming from reaching catastrophic levels, has been criticized as being unachievable without ruining the nation’s economy. But Synapse’s economic modeling suggests that the United States could reach or surpass that target while saving $78 billion in costs of electricity, heating, and transportation from now through 2050. The strategy could also result in an extra 500,000 jobs per year compared to a scenario in which we do not make an effort to curb emissions, according to the modeling.

The analysis is presented in a report released today by the Labor Network for Sustainability and The Clean Energy Future: Protecting the Climate, Creating Jobs, and Saving Money puts forth a plan that expands renewable energy and energy efficiency, phases out all coal-fired power by 2050, and decreases natural gas capacity, along with modest changes in other sectors. As costs shift from fossil fuels and the installation of expensive pollution controls at existing power plants to low-cost, underused energy efficiency and renewable energy, ratepayers will see a net benefit.

While jobs in non-renewable electricity production will naturally decrease over time as the country ramps down or phases out coal, natural gas, and nuclear, analysis shows that these losses are more than recouped by jobs created by energy efficiency programs, renewable energy production, and the manufacture of electric cars. Net job gains increase from a little under 200,000 per year in 2016-2020 to 800,000 per year in 2046-2050. These totals include both jobs created directly by the industry and by associated industries (e.g., at companies that sell related supplies), and jobs created when direct employees spend their paychecks and stimulate other industries.

Figure 1. Job creation in the Clean Energy Future, 2016-2050

Job creation in the Clean Energy Future