Much of today’s media coverage is split between President Obama’s speech about jobs and the economy, and the breakdown in the Copenhagen climate discussions. But who says the two topics have to be mutually exclusive?
An international accord reached in Copenhagen could lead to comprehensive climate legislation back in Washington, D.C., creating good paying green jobs throughout the country—a sentiment shared by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said in a recent New York Times op-ed:
[S]ome are concerned that a strong agreement on climate change will undermine the efforts of developing nations to build their economies, but the opposite is true. This is an opportunity to drive investment and job creation around the world, while bringing energy services to hundreds of millions of the world’s poor.
At times, it seems the climate debate centers around which fossil fuel will lead the way or which renewable is the best for the job, but really this country – and the globe – is so dependent on electricity that all sources of energy will be vital to meeting our growing demand. And with low-cost, reliable electricity from coal and the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage, the jobs created will be substantial.
Investments in clean coal technology are quickly being realized as the leading investment in energy technology. Just today, we released a study that found that the benefits from CCS are extraordinary, in that the return on the investment is quicker and higher than any other energy technology source. Our own U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is the source for this data, and their programs are fast realizing the potential. Perhaps that is why the DOE is making a commitment to CCS projects all across the country.
Moreover, in E&E Greenwire’s coverage of the study, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) surmised that success with current clean coal programs point to an added for federal investment in CCS. “We’re trying to invent an entire new energy system,” said AEI fellow Sam Thernstrom, who went on to say that putting that responsibility on the private sector might not produce results as quickly as would federal funding, and that “investments in CCS make sense.”
So while we investigate ways to turn the economy around and start to grow jobs again in America, we should continue to look to realistic and constructive climate legislation in this country. Not only is it an investment in cleaner air, it’s an investment in our economy and the many jobs it could stand to gain. And perhaps, much like in many other cases, emerging countries will look to America as the model of success.