A Pledge to Invest in Clean Energy

by Karnig Kazarian

The midterm elections have, as predicted, shifted power back to the Republicans in the House, but what exactly does that mean for the nation’s emerging green economy? The Republican leader and presumptive new speaker of the House, John Boehner, indirectly answered that question on election night by prominently highlighting A Pledge to America, which will seemingly serve as the Republican blueprint for governance.

Among the enumerated promises, A Pledge to America correctly prioritizes the economy and job creation as the primary objective; however, in the same section, it simply derides the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as wholly ineffective with regard to job creation without considering that parts of the ARRA have achieved success—namely investment in clean energy. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the ARRA clean energy investments saved or created more than 100,000 jobs as of the first quarter of 2010, up from 72,000 jobs as of the fourth quarter of 2009.

Additionally, the Republican manifesto asserts that government will not stifle entrepreneurs’ ability to compete in the global marketplace; but, it fails to fully consider how the federal government can support entrepreneurs in the clean technology sector through the availability of policy mechanisms aimed at expediting the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies. The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America, released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, suggests that strong federal policies will accelerate the growth of this economic sector and help the United States realize clean energy’s full economic potential. In this particular case, government investment and tax incentives would actually translate into increased competitiveness in the global marketplace at a critical juncture in our nation’s economic restructuring and amid a worldwide clean energy revolution.

As reported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, $33.9 billion flowed into clean energy during the second quarter of 2010 and total clean energy investment for 2010 is projected at $180-$200 billion. Unfortunately, while the United States pioneered clean energy, it no longer is the global leader, as China assumed the top spot for overall clean energy finance and investment in 2009, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts report Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition and Opportunity in the World’s Largest Economies. It is also noted that the United States has slipped behind ten countries in clean energy investments as a share of its national economy, and the report indicates that domestic policy decisions appear to have shifted the competitive positions of these countries seeking leadership positions in the clean energy sector.

Earlier this year, President Obama expressed in a speech that “we need to invest in the jobs of the future and in the industries of the future, because the country that leads in clean energy and energy efficiency today, I’m absolutely convinced, is going to lead the global economy tomorrow. I want that country to be the United States of America.” With President Obama’s unmistakable commitment to this sector, now is the opportune time for a bipartisan effort to establish a strong national policy framework to spur clean energy investment and create new jobs.

A pledge to invest in clean energy could send a powerful message of economic resurgence to not only the American people but also the world.

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