Report: The Clean Energy Economy Employs 4.5 Million Americans

Many in the environmental community sounded alarms during the first week of Donald Trumps presidency.

First, President Trump removed references to climate change from the White House website and replaced them with a statement on his administration’s energy policy that seeks to reduce “burdensome regulations on our energy industry.” Then, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum that puts a hold on pending or new regulations and might affect almost completed Department of Energy efficiency standards for a number of products, including air conditioners.

Trump’s regulatory freeze stands in contrast with a recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps. Transitioning to a more environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient economy, the group says, can accomplish an even bigger task on Trump’s to-do list: create jobs.

Sustainable energy and energy efficiency employs 4 million to 4.5 million Americans — and those numbers are poised to increase, Climate Corps says.

A look at the renewable energy sector serves as a good example. Renewable energy employment is “growing rapidly,” Climate Corps says. Solar employment opportunities are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. And wind turbine technician is the fastest growing profession in the U.S.

American renewable energy jobs had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 percent since 2012. Over the past five years, annual growth in oil and gas extraction, coal mining, and processing jobs ranged from 9 percent to 22 percent. But jobs in those sectors have seen an overall decline with a CAGR of -4.25 percent.

Additionally, the renewable energy economy creates more jobs than the fossil fuel industry per dollar invested, says Climate Corps. Investments in renewable energy generate about three times more direct and indirect jobs than comparable investments in fossil fuels.

Of course, all of this job growth stems from the rapid deployment of wind and solar energy in the U.S. And this will only continue as costs fall ever lower: Solar PV panel production costs decreased by 72 percent between 2010 and 2015, which makes solar PV cost-competitive with fossil-fuel generated power in many markets. So it’s no surprise that solar deployment expanded tenfold since 2010. America also more than doubled its installed wind capacity from 2009 to 2015.

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