Pandemic Slowing Clean Energy Jobs & Energy Efficiency Growth

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ASCE’s recent COVID-19 Status Report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing energy infrastructure challenges, delaying some investments in the short term and costing nearly half a million Americans working in renewable energy their jobs.

According to a new analysis by BW Research Partnership, the clean energy sector has grown less than 1% over the last four months. Three out of every 4 clean energy workers who lost their jobs from the pandemic remains out of work. This comes on the heels of an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy report that found federal investment in energy efficiency could create 660,000 jobs through 2022 and the Solar Foundation jobs report, which found a 2.3% increase in solar jobs in 2019 and a 157% increase over the past decade.

Not only has the pandemic slowed clean energy job growth, but according to the latest report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), investments in new energy-efficient buildings, equipment, and vehicles are expected to decline this year in large part due to declines in economic growth and income uncertainty among consumers and businesses. Faith Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA, said in a statement that “Together with renewables, energy efficiency is one of the mainstays of global efforts to reach energy and climate goals. While our recent analysis shows encouraging momentum for renewables, I’m very concerned that improvements in global energy efficiency are now at their slowest rate in a decade.”

Additionally, in recent climate change policy developments, the Climate 21 Project recently released a blueprint for the incoming Biden Administration. This plan includes a focus on the clean energy industry and energy efficiency as a component of its broader recommendations. Specifically, the group makes recommendations for 11 White House offices and federal departments and agencies, drawing on input from more than 150 experts. The guide recommends the Biden Administration create a new National Climate Council similar to the existing National Economic Council to coordinate and drive climate policy, as well for the publication of a new four-year Climate Ambition Agenda detailing actions that agencies can take to reduce emissions and support a green energy transition. President-elect Biden also recently appointed former Senator and Secretary of the U.S. Department of State John Kerry as his special envoy for climate – a Cabinet-level official that will sit on the National Security Council.

ASCE supports a national energy policy that anticipates future energy needs and promotes a balanced national energy portfolio, including the development of clean and renewable energy sources while encouraging energy conservation and efficiency. The Society also supports establishing clear and reasonable targets and time frames for the reduction of GHG emissions, as well as government policies that encourage anticipation of and preparation for impacts of climate change on the built environment.

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