The clean economy sector totaled $47 billion on the West Coast in 2010, and it could triple in size by 2020, according to a recently released study by the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC). The West Coast specifically refers to the states of California, Oregon and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia. In 2010, there were 508,400 full time equivalent (FTE) green jobs in 2010. Up to 1.03 million new FTE jobs can be created from 2010 to 2020, or for every clean economy job created in 2010, more than two additional jobs can be created over the next decade.
The clean economy is the “single most important global opportunity on the medium-term horizon,” the study states. The following prediction illustrates just how significant the clean economy will be for the West Coast: GDP contributions of up to $142.7 billion are possible between 2010 and 2020, along with increased investments ranging from $147 to $192 billion.
The study lists five high growth sectors: Clean energy supply, clean transportation, energy efficiency and green building, environmental protection and resource management, and knowledge and support. The three sectors that stand out, of the five, for the most job growth potential are energy efficiency and green building sector environmental protection and resource management, and clean transportation. Energy efficiency and green building shows the largest overall increase in new employment.
“We have proof that our actions are already working,” said Washington Governor and PCC Chair Chris Gregoire. “Through collaboration and low-carbon innovation, we have developed a win-win competitive strategy that will continue to work well for all of our jurisdictions.”
“More than 500,000 Pacific Coast residents are cashing clean economy paychecks right now,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “And job creation rates in the clean economy are well above those for other shrinking sectors of the economy, pay better, and have been more resilient to the recent economic downturn.”
“By working collaboratively with our Pacific Coast neighbors, we can set the terms for long-term job growth and economic strength,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
What it will take for the West Coast to see predicted clean economy gains
In order for the predicted gains in the clean economy to be achieved there needs to be region-wide collaboration, the report advises. Specifically, the three states and British Columbia need to collaborate on workforce development, harmonized building codes and equipment standards, market development initiatives, economic gains from intra-regional trading, and region wide infrastructure investments. The report also suggests that the following needs to occur:
- The playing field needs to be leveled for clean energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation solutions
- The promotion of price mechanisms that include the full costing of carbon
- Financing and other non-price mechanisms are also needed to remove barriers that inhibit the advancement of the clean economy
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