Climate Change and the Economy

As climate change moves increasingly to the forefront of conversations among policymakers, some continue to argue over how much it will cost the economy to cut the emission of greenhouse gases.
Organizations like Green For All believe that the national effort to curb global warming and oil dependence can simultaneously create well-paid green-collar jobs, safer streets and healthier communities. Van Jones, founding president, wrote a book called The Green Collar Economy, which tells people how they can invent and invest their way out of the pollution-based grey economy and into the new green economy. California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has endorsed the book.

The conversations linking greenhouse gas emissions with the economy are becoming increasingly significant, especially in California where in two months, the state is set to adopt broad policies to enforce a new cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

In a timely study released Monday, David Roland-Holst, an economist at the Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley, found that California's energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007, while eliminating fewer than 25,000.

Although the state's policies lowered employee compensation in the electric power industry by an estimated $1.6 billion over the same time period, the state's overall compensation improved by $44.6 billion.

Professor Roland-Holst said his calculations over the past 30 years factored both the decrease in per-capita demand for electricity--now 40 percent below the national average--and the increase in California's electrical rates, which are 40 percent above the national average. He said that the historical decrease in per-capita demand for electricity outstripped the increase in rates and that much of the economic growth was driven by both energy efficiency standards for large appliances (i.e. refrigerators) and for residential and commercial buildings.

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