As we await the new administration in Washington, I was honored to attend and participate in the HUB2016 Conference in Sweden in late November. As an innovator and business developer in the battery and the energy field, I see many opportunities to improve the world for future generation and to contribute to strong economic development. I had the opportunity to talk about the battery and energy storage revolution going on right now and how it will affect global flows of urbanization, cut poverty and reduce carbon emissions dramatically. It was great to hear about real growth in clean energy jobs around the world.
In the United States, Clean Jobs America, a comprehensive clean energy jobs analysis released in March 2016 by E2 showed that 2.5 million Americans work in the clean energy sector. E2 is a US national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors and others who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Furthermore, according to the US Department of Energy, nearly a million Americans are working near- or full-time in the solar, wind, energy efficiency, and alternative vehicles sectors, with another two million working part-time in these industries. This is nearly five times the current employment in the fossil fuel electric industry, which includes coal, gas, and oil workers.
Furthermore, many of these clean energy jobs are local (such as weatherizing homes), cannot be sent offshore, and have average wages above the national median. So, as the incoming Trump administration develops its plans for meeting the President-elect’s promises to the American electorate to create good-paying local jobs, encouraging clean energy jobs should be high on the list
While aggressive US federal government policy and leadership is clearly important in funding and spreading good clean energy technologies, in these days of deadlock in Washington, states are arguably even more important as the continuing laboratories for developing clean energy policies that encourage job growth. Many states and US regions are already doing that with smart and effective renewable energy standards and energy efficiency incentives and policies of their own. For example, our company, Cadenza Innovation, has been the recipient over the past four years of state grants and awards from Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts that have together helped our company grow and develop our technology.
On the federal level, efforts to broadly cut back the US Environmental Protection Agency and the clean energy efforts at the US Department of Energy along with related tax incentives would be misguided as would efforts to pull back from the recent international climate agreement reached in Paris. In particular, one of the main reasons for growth in U.S. advanced vehicle jobs is the 54.5-mpg fuel standard (CAFÉ) established five years ago. This standard—as well as new fuel-efficiency standards for trucks—is growing clean vehicle industries that help all automakers meet these and the European Community fuel standards and should not be substantially delayed.
The message from Sweden and the HUB2016 conference was clear–the clean energy jobs revolution is happening worldwide and the United States should remain as one of its leaders. We are excited to be part of it!