Jobs, energy and the environment are core aspects of the Green New Deal. As the name implies, the Green New Deal is a reflection of the depression-era New Deal that became a major jobs program during the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. Energy and environment are Siamese twins, joined at the hip by the effects of carbon emissions from energy use on climate stability, and therefore environmental protection. Climate change is the foremost threat to the environment, affecting everything from species loss to land and water deterioration. Eventually, human survival depends on environmental stability which in turn depends on climate stability.
It is almost a truism that conversion of a high-carbon economy to a low-carbon economy will involve high employment in renewable energy, building retrofits, land restoration, high-speed rail transportation and other areas that will have to change. To take one example: “Nationwide, more than 110,000 net new clean energy jobs were created in 2018, bringing the total number of Americans who work in clean energy to 3.26 million.” This is 3 times the total fossil fuel jobs in 2018. (Source: https://e2.org/; E2 stands for Business Leaders for a Better Environment, Stronger Economy)
A low-carbon economy provides job opportunities in many ways besides renewable energy. Buildings are a major source of emissions, up to 30% of Washington State emissions. Along with electrifying buildings, a major priority of environmental groups, retrofitting existing buildings for better insulation is a major opportunity for low-skill employment. Converting HVAC systems from oil or gas to electric heat pumps is also a major source of employment of both skilled and unskilled labor. In 2018, 595,331 direct jobs were in the “Appliances” area including Energy Star appliances and high efficiency HVAC.) (Source: https://www.eesi.org/papers/view/fact-sheet-jobs-in-renewable-energy-energy-efficiency-and-resilience-2019 )
Other job growth areas include conversion of the transportation system and the electric grid. Manufacture of electric cars, trucks and buses will add new jobs, while electrification of railroads can employ many skilled workers to build locomotives and to install the catenaries. Rail corridors also provide a means of distributing renewal energies through “smart grids” that bring electricity from sunny and windy areas to cities. Building out the smart grid will require many high-skilled jobs. (source: https://www.solutionaryrail.org/unions_rb4 )
Agricultural employment can also offer job opportunities. Reforestation is an area of agriculture that can employ foresters and planting crews. Forestry agriculture can provide crops grown under trees and increase sequestration of carbon. No-till agriculture and restoration of soil carbon are also areas of employment that will require training and implementation of new skills. Improvements in food transportation will result from new forms of transport, including the electrified rail and truck networks that are already under development (see https://www.solutionaryrail.org ). These various areas will require job growth and retraining of agricultural workers.
In summary, the opportunities for new jobs and growth in existing employment are considerable, given the requirements for change from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy. Growth will occur not only in renewable energy areas, which are already outpacing fossil fuel jobs, but in retrofitting buildings and new construction, and in transportation and agriculture. These are the areas where the Green New Deal and jobs reinforce each other, as the economy converts from high-carbon energy to low-carbon energy.