The Enormous Potential of Clean Energy Investments

Date Published: 
Thu, 06/18/2009

Robert Pollin, James Heintz, and Hedidi Garrett-Peltier. The Center for American Progress. June 18, 2009.

The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy” was published after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, but before the legislative failure of a carbon emissions cap and trade program in the 111th Congress. The authors consider what might happen if both bills were signed into law, resulting in an annual $150 billion in clean energy investments over the next 10 years (partially through public investments, but mostly through incentives and subsidies for private investors).

Such a sustained investment could generate 2.5 million new jobs, with a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs if, as the authors estimate, 800,000 jobs are lost in the fossil fuel sector. (The authors note that their job loss prediction is probably too high.) If clean-energy investment is heightened, employment opportunities will rise apace. In the second appendix net job creation is analyzed for every state and the District of Columbia. Lastly, the paper analyzes various economic models experts have employed to gauge the effects of a carbon cap on the growth of the U.S. economy. “All of the models, without exception, forecast that a carbon cap…would have, at worst, a minimally negative impact on the U.S. economy’s long-term growth.”