The next president will be confronted with the challenges of climate change and energy security and some say the solution to both those issues is the same: the creation of a “green economy.” Host Steve Curwood turns to Phil Angelides, chairman of the board of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, and environmental groups that promotes clean energy technology and the creation of green jobs.
CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood. Jobs, jobs, jobs. In a year when many people are losing their homes to foreclosure and take home pay is being shrunk by high gas and food prices, there’s nothing like the promise of a good secure job to warm the heart of the average voter, and the Democrats certainly didn’t miss that trick at their convention.
Speaker after speaker echoed the promise of new jobs linked to energy and cleaning up the environment, as outlined in the party platform. It reads, and I quote:
“We Democrats commit to fast track investment of billions of dollars over the next ten years to establish a green energy sector that will create up to five million jobs. This transition to a clean energy industry will also benefit low-income communities.”
Joining me to talk about how an Obama presidency would affect the green economy is Phil Angelides. He’s the former State Treasurer of California, and chair of the board of the labor and environmental lobbying coalition known as the Apollo Alliance.
Mr. Angelides, welcome to Living on Earth
ANGELIDES: It’s great to be with you. Thank you for having me on today.
CURWOOD: What kind of jobs are we talking about? To someone who is listening to us what kind of jobs should they be thinking maybe they’ll get or maybe their kids might get?
ANGELIDES: I think the kind of jobs we’re talking about can be anything from skilled workers building trades who are making buildings more energy efficient or installing solar panels, to Americans who are working to improve our power grid, to Americans who are building the public transportation systems of the 21st century, to people working in auto factories making fuel efficient vehicles, to scientists and engineers who are developing energy efficient products for the marketplace. There’s a whole range of jobs across the economy that can result from this conversion away from an oil economy to a clean energy economy.
CURWOOD: And if I come from a low-income neighborhood where people don’t have a lot of education or a lot of opportunity, what’s in it for us?
ANGELIDES: What’s in it, hopefully, for all Americans including folks in low-income communities is the possibility of an economy of broadly shared prosperity. Part of our agenda, part of the next presidents agenda has to be to reach into those communities to train people to educate people to give them the skill sets not only to compete for, but to win, the jobs in this new green collar economy. All over this country there are the beginning signs of a new commitment to provide pathways out of poverty. And I will just say, clearly, at the Apollo Alliance we do not believe this clean energy revolution will be whole unless there is the possibility for the poorest Americans in inner city neighborhoods or rural areas to be a part of this new green economy. We won’t have been successful in our goals, because this is about confronting climate change. It is also about restoring the notion of broad based prosperity in the American economy—a notion that’s been eroded now for four decades.
CURWOOD: So how confident are you that an Obama administration would be willing to go up to capitol hill reach in the pockets and spend these many, many, you’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars, on this sector of the economy and retraining? There are a lot of competing issues, I am thinking of healthcare, social security. That’s a big price tag.
ANGELIDES: Well, Obama has made a very firm commitment in his platform, in fact he is the first candidate I can ever remember running TV ads across the country as part of his campaign, making a clear commitment to invest in our industries, in our communities, in our peoples to build the new green economy. And I want to say something here in terms of how we pay for this. The fact is a lot of money we spend today can be redirected so its better-spent creating green collar jobs. We spend a lot of money on transportation and housing for example that needs to be spent in a way that supports the new green economy. Hopefully, we can also put in place what we call a cap and invest program where we charge polluters for putting carbon into our atmosphere and we take the money that we charge those polluters and we redirect that money to make investments in research and development in education and reindustrialization here in America to support the green economy.
CURWOOD: Phil Angelides is the former state treasurer of California and ran as the democratic nominee for governor. He is now chairman of the board at the Apollo Alliance. Thank you so much for taking this time Phil.
ANGELIDES: My pleasure.
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