Environmental Reforms Can Help Economy
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
New Reports Urge Reforms
LABOR UNIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS JOIN FORCES TO FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING, PROTECT THE ECONOMY, DEFEND WORKING FAMILIES
According to a new report unveiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Center for a Sustainable Economy (CSE), the U.S. can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy security while strengthening the overall economy, creating jobs, and compensating workers in energy intensive industries whose jobs are at risk.
The report, Clean Energy and Jobs: a Comprehensive Approach to Climate Change and Energy Policy, was authored by James Barrett, a former EPI economist, and J. Andrew Hoerner, CSE research director.
“Our work suggests that there is a smart way and a not-so-smart way to approach climate change policy,” said Hoerner. “With the right approach, the interests of working families and the environment come together. Earlier work using oversimplified, poorly-designed policies showed huge economic and employment losses from trying to meet climate goals. In contrast, we model a more balanced plan, combining a ‘polluter-pays’ approach, reduced taxes on working people, and promoting new clean technologies. Such policies would dramatically reduce the cost of achieving energy security and reductions in global warming pollution for consumers and working families.”
The study finds that these policies could be adopted without the decline in economic growth and employment that previous economic studies have predicted. Specific results of the economic model include:
A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, so that they would be about two-thirds of their 1999 level in 2020 with this policy package;
A significant net increase in job creation, with about 660,000 more jobs created by 2010 than without the policy package and about 1.4 million more jobs by 2020.
Greater energy security due to less dependence on imported oil. Under this economic model, imports of foreign oil would decline by 610 million barrels per year in 2010 when compared with current projected levels for that year. By 2020, that difference would be 1.54 billion barrels per year — slightly more than all OPEC imports in 1999.
Lower energy costs for consumers. While this plan would raise energy prices, it would reduce energy usage through increased efficiency. Over 20 years, the net benefit to households would be about $475 billion.
The policies whose economic impacts were modeled in Clean Energy and Jobs include a package of measures to promote energy-efficiency and clean-energy technologies; a modest tax on carbon emissions and a small surcharge on nuclear and hydroelectric power, most of it returned to workers through a progressive cut in other taxes; a border adjustment on energy taxes; and transitional assistance, modeled on the GI Bill and other successful programs, for workers and communities that would be negatively affected.
Some industries — notably coal mining and electrical utilities — would suffer substantial job losses under a comprehensive carbon-reduction policy. “It is unfair that workers in a few industries should bear the entire burden of providing a general social benefit like a stable climate,” said Barrett. “We analyzed a range of measures to minimize the impact on these workers and their communities and provide full economic compensation for those who are negatively affected. This is the first study to examine the feasibility of compensating workers in the context of a comprehensive economic analysis of climate policy,” Barrett observed.
According to the report, this new analysis “lies in the middle ground between those who would do nothing to address the economic and environmental risks of fossil fuel consumption, and those who would insist on immediate solutions, heedless of economic or human cost. [Our] results suggest that we do not need to accept a choice between environmental degradation and economic calamity.”
Leaders Call for Action
An unprecedented coalition of leaders of some of the nation’s largest labor unions and environmental groups came together to call for dramatic action against global warming in a way that protects working families and the economy. The coalition also embraced a new study by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for a Sustainable Economy that sets forth a feasible plan to achieve those goals.
At a joint press conference in Washington, DC and Miami Fl, Andrew Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club; David Foster, Director, District 11, United Steelworkers of America; Kevin Knobloch, Executive Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists; Bruce Raynor, President of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees; David Hawkins, Director of the NRDC Climate Center; and Jenice View, Executive Director of the Just Transition Alliance announced that labor unions and environmental groups will work together to achieve worker friendly solutions to global warming and educate the public that there is no conflict between economic security and environmental protection. The groups committed to work together to develop specific policy proposals to present to Congress.
According to Pope, “We don’t need to choose between blue skies and blue collars. There’s no disputing that we can have both and it is about time that we did.” In a similar statement Stern declared that, “Working men and women care about the environment as much as anyone else does. It is not right that workers in a few industries should carry the entire burden of securing a stable climate that we all benefit from. It’s now clear that there are solutions that can protect the environment and the livelihoods of working people.”
The Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club, District #11 of the United Steelworkers of America, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, who represent more than three million workers and environmentalists, said in a joint statement, “Global warming is a problem that needs to be solved. The science is clear on that point. The only question is whether we will approach the global warming problem in a way that protects workers and communities, or a way that further enriches large energy corporations.”
The environmental groups and the labor unions have come together to say they understand the importance of a worker-friendly clean energy plan to fight global warming. Today they made the first steps to bringing that plan to fruition.
The joint statement, the EPI-CSE study and individual organization statements can be found on the Internet at www.BlueGreenAlliance.net
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