The New Economy: Saving Energy, Growing Jobs
How do we Achieve an Environmentally Sustainable Economy?
Environmental protection is a viable tool for promoting economic growth and creating jobs because of innovation and competition. The key to helping business thrive so we can grow more jobs and nurturing a healthy environment is innovation. Innovation does not appear magically just because we have a market economy. The jobs that accompany it do not either. A healthier environment can and must come from collaborative relationships among government, labor, private industry, and the environmental movement. Controlling climate change and achieving environmental sustainability can be part both of an international and domestic development policy – if it is done correctly.
What does “Green” Mean to the Economy?
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the United States lost 16 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2003, with a further decline of almost 4 percent between then and now. Similarly, the United States faces significant challenges in maintaining its status as a leading innovator, in fighting global warming, and in rebuilding its deteriorating infrastructure. The nation now has a unique opportunity to embrace these interdependent challenges and create a plan of action. In so doing, not only do we create a just and equitable society for our workers and employers – and therefore for our communities – but we are able to grow manufacturing jobs and rebuild our infrastructure in an environmentally sustainable manner.
How does it affect Workers?
Both our prosperity as a nation and our national security rely on a strong manufacturing base. Yet, the manufacturing share of the American economy continues to slip drastically. In 2005, manufacturing accounted for only 12 percent of the nation’s GDP, 15 percent lower than the previous decade. We must make some serious choices: on climate change, on trade, on tax policy, and through our vote. Congress has an opportunity to address climate change and by so doing, to create a market for clean energy and green jobs. In so doing, we can stabilize our nation’s energy supply, reduce our emission of greenhouse gases, and create new well-paying manufacturing jobs across the country.
Why should Latinos Care?
Hispanics have become the largest minority and fastest growing population in the United States and it is estimated that by 2025, Hispanics will account for 18 percent of the elderly population. Nearly 60 percent of Hispanics live with families with incomes below the 2005 poverty level, and 1 in 6 Latino seniors live under the poverty level. Yet, Latinos as a whole are younger, have more children, have greater family stability.
The economic advantages of supporting the creation of markets for clean energy and bolstering of manufacturing are obvious. But, it is also important that all Latinos - regardless of where they live - have access to information about climate change and its quality of life effects on their communities. As evidenced so dramatically by the aftermath of Katrina, low-income and communities of color were adversely impacted because the nation’s policy around environmental justice was inefficient.
Adverse impact can include but is not limited to, environmental justice issues like hurricanes and the recovery impact on communities of color because of lack of resources to rebuild and lack of materials to sustain; but it also includes a health component as exemplified by the prevalence of certain chronic conditions in the Latino community like asthma that are directly related to poor air quality which in turn is related to old technologies that pollute. The vicious cycle of unsustainable environmental standards, job loss and adverse health impacts must be broken.
By educating ourselves, LCLAA members can assist manufacturers and our fellow workers to transition to this new economy by encouraging innovative policies to move us forward at a much faster pace. A “green” agenda would include encouraging our members of Congress to support significant federal investments in federal tax credits for research and worker retraining programs, among others. We must encourage a shift in the paradigm of globalization so as to create new trade agreements that enhance growth, enable manufacturing to thrive through sustainable development, and lift standards abroad so that people will not feel an obligation to leave their countries, but also be able to buy American made products while saving our local communities from global warming.
¡Juntos Podemos Más!
What Does a “Green” Economy mean for LCLAA?
LCLAA is the most progressive national Latino organization in the country. As such, LCLAA has an opportunity to engage and educate our communities by being at the forefront of educating ourselves, our families and our workplace about how to leave a smaller carbon footprint, while promoting a new and environmentally sustainable economy through:
• Renewable Energy Sources
• New Manufacturing Jobs
• Practical Applications that help our communities and reduce home expenses.
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