WWF: Investment in Clean Energy Projects Abroad Will Create U.S. Jobs

Putting a price on carbon pollution and investing in clean technology projects in developing countries could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States and help America catch up to China and Europe in the clean energy race, according to a new report issued by World Wildlife Fund.

WWF’s report, "Getting Back in the Game: U.S. Job Growth Potential from Expanding Clean Technology Markets in Developing Countries," highlights a significant, but rarely discussed, economic angle to the Senate’s deliberations on the American Power Act, which was recently introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Unlike the House-passed climate bill, which set aside 1 percent of revenues from emissions auctions for international clean technology investments, the American Power Act contains no such dedicated funding stream nor a program to guide these public investments. This lack of secure, long-term funding would limit the job-creating potential of the legislation by limiting the opportunities for American companies to export their energy technology to global markets.

“We’re leaving jobs on the table that this provision could create,” said Lou Leonard, WWF’s director of U.S. Climate Policy. “If America wants to have any chance of catching Europe and China in the clean energy race we simply cannot afford to ignore international markets for American clean technologies.”

It is widely recognized that energy technology is emerging as the new information technology – that is, the next major driver of economic growth, said Leonard. But unlike the IT field, in which the United States has held a commanding lead, the energy technology field is being dominated by China and Europe, which are out-investing the United States in clean energy and have policies in place that limit carbon pollution, which in turn creates market demand for clean technologies.

According to WWF’s report, China out-invested the United States 2:1 last year in clean energy and exported three times as much clean technology products and services, as measured in absolute dollars. The report further finds that the United States has lost market share in environmental goods and services in almost every regional market.

The International Energy Agency estimates that $27 trillion in clean technology investments are needed in developing countries over the next four decades. Capturing just a fraction of that demand could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States. According to the WWF report, the United States could create 280,000 to 850,000 new jobs if it captures just 14 percent of the clean technology market in the developing world. “Creating such new markets would also increase American exports, potentially reducing the trade deficit,” said Leonard.

“We don’t need twelve steps to break our oil addiction and put the US in the lead of the clean energy economy. We can do it in two,” said Leonard. “First, create market incentives for clean energy technologies here in the US by passing a climate bill that puts a price on carbon pollution. And second, include an international clean technology program in a US climate bill that will increase demand for new clean technologies, lower costs and maximize the number of new American jobs.”