PERI
Research AreasEnvironmental and Energy Economics

A Green Economics Program study by
Robert Pollin, Jeannette Wicks-Lim & Heidi Garrett-Peltier

In partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Green For All
June 18, 2009

The United States today faces a formidable generation-long challenge: to transform the economy from being driven primarily by fossil fuel sources of energy, which are the major cause of global climate change, to becoming an economy that can function effectively through renewable energy sources and by achieving high levels of energy efficiency.

The project of building a clean-energy economy will become a powerful engine of expanding employment opportunities throughout the U.S. economy. According to a study that PERI recently completed with the Center for American Progress, clean-energy investments at the level of about $150 billion per year—i.e. around one percent of U.S. GDP—can generate about 1.7 million net new jobs throughout the U.S. economy.

This level of annual new clean-energy investments in the U.S. will be strongly encouraged through the combination of direct government spending, along with the subsidies and incentives for private business investors that would result from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the American Clean Energy and Security Act now being debated in Congress. Within this strongly supportive policy framework, the advance of clean-energy technologies will accelerate and markets supporting these technologies will mature. This will create a self-reinforcing dynamic of rising private-sector clean-energy investment opportunities, which in turn will mean expanding job opportunities. 

The building of a clean-energy economy in the United States can also serve another purpose: to create new ‘pathways out of poverty’ for the 78 million people in this country (roughly 25 percent of the population) who are presently poor or near-poor, and raise living standards more generally for low-income people in the United States. How the project of building a clean-energy economy can benefit low-income people in the U.S. is the focus of this study.

>> Download "Green Prosperity"
>> Read about the companion study, “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy: How the Economic Stimulus Program and New Legislation Can Boost U.S. Economic Growth and Employment”
>> Learn more about PERI's Green Economics research

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>> Natural Resources Defense Council
>> Green For All