Bay Area Solar Companies Lead Nation in Job Growth, Fighting Global Warming
Environment California Research & Policy Center
Environmental groups, clean energy experts and local businesses gathered today to release a report that maps out how clean energy solutions can make a dramatic difference in the fight against a warming planet as well as the struggle to revive a cooling economy. The diverse group celebrated the fact that while emissions of global warming pollutants in 2009 were the lowest they have been since 1995, California solar companies employed 25,000 workers, more than anywhere in the country.
“Despite the immense challenge we face to dramatically reduce global warming while simultaneously creating jobs, the work of transforming the American economy with clean energy has already begun,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, director of clean energy programs at Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Thanks to progress at the local level, especially here in the Bay Area, the nation has begun to experience a real shift in how we produce energy and how we create jobs.”
Environment California was joined by local business leaders as well as L. Hunter Lovins, President and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and one of the country’s leading thinkers about how to shift to a clean energy economy. The group gathered to release an analysis showing that local governments, even with no help from Congress, can cut carbon pollution nationally by 20% by 2020 and 34% by 2030 through clean energy solutions like solar power.
“The public and a growing number of stakeholders strongly support saving energy, shifting to clean power, reducing our oil dependence and reducing air pollution,” said L. Hunter Lovins. “By first tapping into this support, taking action to reduce emissions in any way we can, and then showing that these solutions work, we will overcome the entrenched opposition of the coal and oil industry and their allies in Congress.”
The study, Global Warming Way Forward: Reducing Carbon Pollution Today and Restoring Momentum for Tomorrow by Promoting Clean Energy, evaluates the emission reduction potential of 30 policy tools across 50 states and documents how California has played an indispensable role in driving America’s progress by adopting strong policies at the local level. Just last week, California adopted a state-wide cap and trade program to dramatically cut global warming pollution. Similar actions all over the country have already yielded a reduction of more than 539 million tons of carbon pollution.
Meanwhile, as air pollution is on the decline, jobs from the solar energy industry are on the rise. Just last week, Environment California Research & Policy Center released new data from The Solar Foundation showing that California has the most solar-related jobs in the country, with an estimated 25,000 people employed by over 3,500 establishments and that a 24% increase is expected in 2012. The new jobs data comes from The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce, which quantifies current employment and projected growth of the solar workforce in the United States and shows that the overall growth rate of 6.8 percent over the past year was nearly ten times higher than the national average employment growth rate of 0.7 percent.
“The solar industry is a strong and growing segment of our local and statewide economy because of proactive government policies,” said Claire Hill from Luminalt, a San Francisco-based solar installation company that is committed to local hiring and workforce development. For the second year in a row, Luminalt was recently named one of the San Francisco Business Times’ Fastest Growing Private Companies. “Despite being a small and locally owned business, Luminalt has installed more solar systems in San Francisco than any other solar installer, and we continue to grow and hire.”
“Too often we are told that we must choose between jobs and the environment; this is a false choice,” said Katie DeCarlo, Director of Green Collar Jobs Campaign at the Ella Baker Center. “An economy that promotes the health of the planet as well as the workers is better for everyone. Renewable energy and energy-efficiency must be affordable, accessible, and local so that we can all be a part of the clean energy revolution.”
Environment California is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. Our professional staff combines independent research, practical ideas and tough-minded advocacy to overcome the opposition of powerful special interests and win real results for California’s environment. Environment California draws on 30 years of success in tackling our state’s top environmental problems.
L. Hunter Lovins is President and founder of the Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS) (www.natcapsolutions.org). She has been the recipient of many honors including the Right Livelihood Award, Lindbergh Award and Leadership in Business, she was named Time Magazine 2000 Hero of the Planet and in 2009 Newsweek dubbed her a “Green Business Icon.”
Established in 2004, Luminalt (www.luminalt.com) is San Francisco’s leading solar design-build firm, providing solar electric and solar hot water systems for single and multi-family homes, businesses, and non-profits throughout the Bay Area. Locally owned, Luminalt is active in the community, hiring from workforce development training programs and volunteering on installations for non-profits throughout San Francisco.
The Ella Baker Center is named for an unsung hero of the civil rights movement who inspired and guided emerging leaders. We build on her legacy by giving people opportunities and skills to work together to strengthen our communities so that all of us can thrive. Its Green Collar Jobs Campaign builds a thriving green economy that puts the planet and people first.