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Roger Garbey and Andres Hernandez, from the Goldin Solar company, install a solar panel system on the roof of a home on January 23, 2018 in Palmetto Bay, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

Roger Garbey and Andres Hernandez, from the Goldin Solar company, install a solar panel system on the roof of a home on January 23, 2018 in Palmetto Bay, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

Infrastructure Plan With Major Climate Investments Would Create 26 Million Jobs: Report

"Congress has the opportunity to create millions of good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy right now," said one advocate.

Kenny Stancil

A report released Friday by Data for Progress and Evergreen Action shows that an infrastructure package with $2.6 trillion in climate investments would create 26 million green jobs over a decade—contributing to a post-pandemic economic recovery that advances renewable energy and environmental justice.

The groups' new report explains how, by following the recommendations outlined in their "Clean Jumpstart 2021" plan, congressional Democrats can deliver on President Joe Biden's campaign pledge to put millions of Americans to work building "modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy economy."

There is considerable overlap between the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan, which proposes spending roughly $2.3 trillion over eight years to upgrade the nation's physical and social infrastructure, and the Clean Jumpstart 2021 roadmap, which calls for investing roughly the same amount in half the time.

After progressives in March argued that the White House's initial proposal was "woefully inadequate" and demanded $10 trillion worth of investments over a decade to expedite the shift from dirty to clean energy, Biden spent months pursuing a so-called bipartisan compromise, which resulted in a deal amounting to less than $600 billion. Climate justice advocates have characterized the plan as unacceptable given its disregard of the climate emergency and penchant for privatization.

Data for Progress and Evergreen Action's new policy memo estimates that spending $2.6 trillion on decarbonizing the economy, similar to the level of climate investment Biden originally called for in the American Jobs Plan, "would create an average of 2.6 million jobs annually for 10 years—including more than one million jobs per year in employment working directly toward the Biden administration's policy goals, and more than 1.5 million jobs along supply chains and in communities due to increased spending."

According to the report, lawmakers can expect to see massive job creation every year over the next decade if they adhere to the 39 policy priorities provided in the Clean Jumpstart 2021 plan. That includes average annual additions of:

  • 363,000 jobs in clean energy deployment;

  • 1.3 million jobs in green infrastructure;

  • 311,000 jobs in clean and competitive manufacturing;

  • 232,000 jobs in agriculture and natural resources;

  • 161,000 jobs in technology innovation; and

  • 262,000 jobs in supporting workers and communities.

"The strength of the June jobs report speaks to the outstanding success of Biden's American Rescue Plan," said Marcela Mulholland, political director at Data for Progress. "Now, he must build on that progress and secure a prosperous economic future by initiating a Clean Jumpstart."

"This bold, progressive plan would create a record 2.6 million jobs in the clean manufacturing and innovation [sectors] of the future" each year, on average, for a decade, Mulholland added, which is "why Congress must adapt a Clean Jumpstart into its version of the infrastructure package."

The report comes amid a recent spate of extreme weather, including a deadly, climate crisis-driven heatwave in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia that made last month the hottest June in North America in recorded history, as well as a "firenado" in California and flooding in New York City, caused by Tropical Storm Elsa and resulting in the inundation of the city's subway system.

"I have been told that combating climate change is expensive," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said Friday. "Compared to what?"

Notably—in response to the $579 billion "bipartisan" package that has been endorsed by the White House but includes hardly any climate funding—Sanders, along with more than a dozen other senators, have "stepped up and said no climate, no deal," as Leah Stokes, associate professor of political science at University of California, Santa Barbara, explained earlier this week.

Progressives are attempting to remedy the compromise proposal's glaring omission of climate provisions with a separate multitrillion-dollar bill—which includes aspects of the American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan, and more—that will move through the budget reconciliation process.

According to Sam Ricketts, co-founder and senior advisor for Evergreen Action, "This report makes it clear: Congress has the opportunity to create millions of good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy right now. With the right investments today, we can create up to 26 million jobs over the next decade, by prioritizing climate in the infrastructure package."

Moreover, if federal lawmakers follow the example being set by state and local policymakers, "the clean economy revolution will be unionized," according to another report released this week by the Center for American Progress.

Ricketts, who earlier this year co-authored a piece with Stokes on the importance of a national clean electricity standard, said Friday that "the vision behind the Clean Jumpstart 2021 is the same vision that animates the American Jobs Plan: bold clean energy standards, robust public investments, and environmental justice."

In March, Data for Progress found that a majority of likely voters across party lines want the federal government to subsidize the transition to a greener economy, including "investments to upgrade aging water infrastructure, funding to help small farmers expand sustainable farming practices, the creation of a new Climate Conservation Corps, and a GI Bill for fossil fuel workers."

Referring to the new policy memo, Ricketts said that "as this report shows, Biden's climate agenda is not only wildly popular, it would boldly transform our economy for the better."

"Congress," he added, "must stand firm and go big on climate, jobs, and justice."

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