November 19, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Newsmaker: Green jobs will clean up the economy, communitiesSee all Newsmakers
- Related Stories
Green tech powers forwardJanuary 16, 2008
Will anyone pay for the 'smart' power grid?May 16, 2007
Does the solar industry need a Salesforce.com?March 30, 2007
- Related Blogs
How clean tech will bring manufacturing jobs back to U.S.
November 1, 2007
(continued from previous page)
Are there models for something like this in other places?
Jones: Our Green Jobs Corps will start in 2008, inspired by Solar Richmond, which is training underprivileged folks in solar panel installation. It's a great example of a small, relatively cheap program training a couple dozen people at a time to meet a growing demand for solar installers in Northern California.
The good thing about these jobs is you can train people in a relatively efficient way to at least get them in on the ground floor. It's a growing industry. That means in a couple years you go from being a worker to being a manager as they hire more people. Maybe a couple years after that you get to be an owner or contractor yourself.
There's an opportunity here to take a photovoltaic panel and use that not only to push down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, but also begin to push people up out of poverty. I think it would be very smart for Silicon Valley to think about these technologies as social uplift, job-creating technologies as well as global warming solutions.
And one reason that would be important is the more folks who maybe can't afford to put solar panels on their second home but are nonetheless benefiting from the solar economy, the more the political and cultural support there will be for renewable energy.
The big challenge now is to make sure that we spread the wealth, work, and health benefits of the green economy as broadly as possible. We don't want just the eco-elite or the eco-chic to benefit from all these clean and green technologies. We want to make sure we're passing laws to help low-income people weatherize their homes, put up solar panels, and create jobs for their low-income neighbors doing that work.
You talk about the Green Jobs Act as a start. It would earmark $125 million and $25 million for at-risk youth and other special populations. That seems like a relatively small amount for such a sweeping project. What kind of funding would you like to see?
Jones: As our follow-on, next year we're launching this national campaign called Green for All. We're asking for $1 billion over four years from the federal government to get a quarter of a million people out of poverty as green-collar workers and entrepreneurs. Why do we say that? First of all, we're focusing on getting people out of poverty who are below the poverty line in the pollution-based economy.
The Green Jobs Act is broader than that, and just $25 million is focused on that. We want to focus $1 billion on that set of people.
If you match that federal $1 billion with state, local, and nonprofit capital, spend about $8,000 per year per person to get the job training done and get them some support in moving people out of poverty and into work, the great thing about it is...your savings to society in terms of social welfare are tremendous. It's not a handout here; you're really connecting people who most need work with the work that most needs to get done.
There have been comparisons with this to the days of (President Franklin) Roosevelt, and talk about a green New Deal. Why do you think we need the government involved in something like this?
Jones: The business community is going to have to take the lead in terms of innovation and job creation, but government can help support the problem solvers and stop helping the problem makers in the U.S. economy. The problem makers--the polluters, warmongers, incarcerators--have a disproportionate share of the resources, and the problem solvers don't get the help they need.
So what kind of help can the government give the problem solvers in the clean and green economy? One, the kind of help is to have a uniform national policy with regard to carbon so that polluting doesn't pay but going green does. The other thing is to make sure that our green business leaders can rely upon a world-class workforce.
No sane society would saddle all these new nascent industries and entrepreneurs with 100 percent of their job training costs on top of the risks they have to take with new markets and new technologies. The smart thing to do is at least make sure the government is training people to do this work and so that folks can walk through the door job-ready.
When you talk about a green New Deal, this will be different from the old New Deal in that we're not trying to create a welfare state, but we're also trying to get away from this warfare state that we've been living under for the past seven years. It requires a new role for government not as a nanny and not as a bully but as a partner to the problem solvers in our economy.
2 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment