MEMO: Climate Action Equals Jobs + Why This Earth Day is Different

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Climate Power
DATE: April 19, 2021
RE: Climate Action Equals Jobs + Why This Earth Day is Different

As President Biden says: “When I hear the words climate change, I hear jobs.” Big, bold, and immediate investments in clean energy and infrastructure will create millions of additional good-paying unions jobs and, at the same time, is our opportunity to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. 

This Earth Day is our climate moment. The moment we save the planet, invest in America AND create jobs for working people. American leadership on climate around the world will mean American jobs here at home.

With the historic passage of the American Rescue Plan, we now have the desperately needed-resources for people, schools, and businesses to get by. But our country needs to do more than get by. We need to get back to work. And we can put people back to work in new good-paying clean energy jobs and tackle climate change at the same time. That’s why Earth Day this year is different: because there is finally the political will and opportunity to build a clean energy future and address decades of environmental racism.   

The politics of climate have changed. Transformational investments in clean energy and infrastructure are overwhelmingly popular with Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. Nearly 7-in-10 voters across the country and in key states want Congress to pass a major recovery package with trillions of dollars in investments in clean energy and infrastructure. A majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all support President Biden’s plan for investments in infrastructure and clean energy that meets the moment. And polling shows that the more people hear about the American Jobs Plan, the more they like it

Individual elements of the plan, including investments in clean energy and clean water, also receive strong support.

The public also rejects the bizarre Beltway debate led by Republicans over what, exactly, constitutes infrastructure in the 21st century.

Not only are the solutions popular but the devastating impacts of climate change and toxic pollution are being felt right now by communities across the country. 

  • The blackouts in Texas earlier this year and failure of natural gas pipelines left nearly 4.5 million customers without power.
  • Every day, 50 million gallons of polluted water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals pours into our streams and rivers from abandoned mine sites in the U.S.
  • There are more than 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells across America that are contaminating our drinking water. In a single year alone, they also dumped 281 kilotons of methane, an extremely potent contributor to climate change and air quality issues, into the atmosphere

Even oil companies know their future is dependent on clean energy. Opposing clean energy and climate action is a serious political problem. It’s why TOTAL left the American Petroleum Institute (API) in January. Shell also recently threatened to leave, saying, “We must be confident that our participation in industry associations is consistent with our views on climate action.” Even API, which has spent millions lobbying for their fossil fuel company profits and against investments in clean energy, are trying to label themselves as part of the solution, even as they continue misleading the public using what one expert called a “classic propaganda” campaign.  It should be a wake up call for policymakers that API’s views on climate and clean energy are too extreme for some of the largest oil companies in the world.  

With climate champions in the White House and in Congress, we have a narrow window of opportunity to make once-in-a-generation investments to build a clean energy future. President Biden won the presidency by putting climate front-and-center during his campaign — and now, he is governing by centering climate solutions in every federal agency. Now is the time to accelerate our investments in clean energy and infrastructure to address climate change and create good-paying union jobs. That’s why President Biden proposed the American Jobs Plan. We must invest in modernizing our infrastructure and building a clean energy future. That means updating our outdated and dangerous electricity grid to run on clean energy and be more resilient to climate change, rebuilding crumbling water systems in danger of collapse, building EV charging stations from coast to coast, and investing in high-speed rail, broadband, worker training, and the care economy. 

We can recover, create jobs AND take climate action. According to a report by Moody’s Analytics, the  American Jobs Plan would dig us out of the jobs crisis caused by the pandemic recession by early 2023. If Congress does its job and passes the American Jobs Plan, it will help create 19 million jobs by 2030. These jobs will also be created for every skill level. In fact, 90 percent of the jobs created by the administration’s infrastructure plan would go to people without a 4-year college degree, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report.  

America can’t wait any longer for a game-changing plan that puts people back to work today building the economy and infrastructure we need now that’s built to last for tomorrow. As President Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen have stressed, the risk of doing too little is far greater than the risk of doing too much. States, cities and businesses are demanding action and have already enacted bold steps to invest in renewable energy and transition away from fossil fuels.13 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have all taken legislative or executive action to move toward a 100% clean energy future, and more than 165 cities have committed to 100% renewable energy targets. Business leaders also know that taking climate action is good for the environment and their bottom line. More than 260 corporations globally have made a commitment to become 100% renewable. 

The climate can’t wait. Hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and other climate-driven disasters are already costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars to rebuild cities and regions. They are also contributing to rising health costs. The West, Southwest, and Northern Plains are experiencing historic drought conditions, which will lead to a very active fire season and also threatens agriculture. Experts are also predicting another extremely active Atlantic hurricane season. If we don’t tackle climate change now, the costs to our communities and working families will continue to rise and our children will face a future of more droughts, flooding, food and water shortages and more.

The bottom line: climate action equals jobs, and there is no time to waste. Congress must get to work and immediately pass big, bold investments in clean energy and infrastructure.