Robert Pollin in theREALnews: Energy Efficiency Now

In a three-part series entitled “Energy Efficiency Now, Paul Jay, senior editor of theREALnews Network interviewed UMass Economics Professor Robert Pollin about prospects for green transformation of the U.S. and World economies.

theREALnews Network
theREALnews Network

A highlight from the first interview:

The main thing that needs to be done right now is to make these short-term investments in energy efficiency, massive ones, such as building retrofits, such as public transportation, making the electrical grid more efficient. So those things need to be done immediately and can be. And then, on top of that, we have to make renewable energy cost competitive with fossil fuels, with oil, coal, and natural gas. And if there is a big enough investment market for that, I think that we can be successful, say, within a decade.

In the second interview, Pollin argues that domestic investments in green energy will create more jobs then foreign investments on oil and other fossil fuels.

Green growth. Okay. So let’s start with the simplest basic numerical exercise, which is if we compare spending money on fossil fuels in the US economy today versus a combination of clean-energy investments today, to spend $1 million you will generate about five jobs per million dollars of spending in fossil fuels, and you’ll generate about 17 jobs per million dollars of spending in the clean-energy economy.

Why? Two basic factors that actually also have nothing particularly to do with whether it’s green or not. The first factor is what we economists call labor intensity, which means, when you spend money on a project, how much goes to hiring people versus buying machines, versus spending on buildings, and versus transportation, long-distance transportation. So if we compare, say, retrofitting a building, making a building more energy-efficient, versus importing oil from Saudi Arabia, we can see in our heads that the number of people that are going to show up at the building is a lot more than the people that are going to get jobs in the US from buying the oil from Saudi Arabia. So that’s the biggest driver. And the second and related one is domestic versus import spending. So if we concentrate a given million dollars of spending and a higher proportion is spent within the US economy, that also will create more jobs. So it’s those two factors. It’s relative labor intensity versus other purchases, and domestic spending versus foreign spending. And those are the factors.

In the third segment, Pollin argues that developing countries won’t necessarily slow down their growth by investing in the green economy. 

Video and transcript available at theREALnews.

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