California’s clean tech sector is the largest in the country, and according to a recent fact sheet on job creation and economic redistribution by the BlueGreen Alliance, it is poised to be a major factor in growing the state’s economy. The report, which gathered statistics from an array of sources, says that in spite of the economic recession with its loss of jobs and 11 percent unemployment, California could make tremendous gains through investing in its green sectors.
The clean tech economy expanded at a rate of 8.3 percent at the height of the recession, the report states, and added more than a half-million jobs from 2003 to 2010. This by far outpaced the rest of the California economy, which lost jobs during that time. In fact, in 2010, when California had a 7 percent job loss, it’s green manufacturing showed an increase of 1 percent. While they represent only 2 percent of overall jobs in California, over half of the 318,000 green jobs had an annual wage of over $46,000.
The report also notes that California’s public policies support its green economy with financial incentives, renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency resource standards and regional cap-and-trade programs.
According to the BlueGreen Alliance’s executive director David Foster [see accompanying interview], “We focus very much on trying to advocate for public policies that reflect the need for us to create jobs by taking on these big environmental problems…The landmark role that California has played in passing high environmental standards provides the necessary framework for the creation of these green economies. Far from regulations being a detriment to the economy, I see them as very fundamental foundations for making it work.”
The Alliance highilghts California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard of 33 percent by 2020 as a vehicle that could generate over 50,000 new green collar jobs, and investments in public transportation will create 64,000 green jobs.
Money saved by consumers and business owners through energy efficiency measures have not only redirected $56 billion from paying for energy to purchasing other goods and services. These savings have also created some 1.5 million jobs with a payroll of $45 billion.
Among the fastest growing sectors in clean tech in California are the smart grid, renewable energy, fuel cells, solar thermal and wind industries. A shining example of job creation resulting from sustainable programs are the more than 115,000 green jobs created by the collecting and processing of recyclable materials. If the nation achieved a 75 percent recycling rate, there would be 1.5 million jobs created by 2030.