Employment Creation and Just Transition Through a U.S. Zero-Carbon Program

>> Read chapter: "Industrial Policy, Employment and Just Transition"
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This paper, “Industrial Policy, Employment and Just Transition, by PERI researchers Robert Pollin, Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Shouvik Chakraborty is one chapter of America’s Zero Carbon Action Plan. The paper works from the energy model in the Action Plan by Jim Williams and Ryan Jones, designed to deliver net zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050. Pollin, Wicks-Lim and Chakraborty find that a full set of investments in the Williams/Jones model to achieve a net zero emissions U.S. economy by 2050 will generate an average of over 4 million jobs per year in total. To ensure that the jobs created are high-quality in terms of wages, benefits, and working conditions, the paper argues for the importance of strong labor unions and effective job training programs.  It also argues for affirmative action programs to ensure that women and non-whites have equal access to clean energy jobs. The federal and state governments should also enact just transition policies for workers and communities that are currently dependent on the fossil-fuel economy. The researchers estimate that about 12,000 workers per year in the coal industry will face job displacement between 2021 - 2030 as the coal industry is phased out as of 2030. About 34,000 workers per year in the oil and gas industry will face displacement as oil and gas are significantly phased down between 2031 - 2050. All displaced workers should receive pension and re-employment guarantees, as well as generous income, retraining, and relocation support.  The combined overall cost of such a generous program will be modest. Fossil-fuel dependent communities should receive major federal and state-level support to reclaim and repurpose land and generate new investment projects, including in a range of clean energy areas.

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