Researchers from UMass Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute have released a pair of new studies detailing clean energy job growth plans for Ohio and Pennsylvania.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has generated severe public health and economic impacts in the Appalachian region, as throughout the U.S., Robert Pollin, Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Shouvik Chakraborty and Gregor Semieniuk propose a recovery program as a counterforce against the region’s economic collapse in the short run, while also building a durable foundation for an economically viable and ecologically sustainable longer-term recovery. The Ohio study and the preliminary Pennsylvania study demonstrate how robust climate stabilization projects will also serve as major engines of economic recovery and expanding opportunities throughout the states.
The authors divide each study into five parts:
- Pandemic, Economic Collapse, and Conditions for Reopening
- Clean Energy Investments, Job Creation and Just Transition
- Investment Programs for Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Land Restoration and Agriculture
- Total Job Creation through Combined Investments
- Financing a Fair and Sustainable Recovery Program
The reports detail clean energy investment projects through which each state can reduce CO2 emissions by 45% as of 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, achieving climate stabilization goals in alignment with those set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018.
The economists show how these two goals can be accomplished through large-scale investments to dramatically raise energy efficiency standards in the states and to equally dramatically expand the supply of clean renewable energy supplies, primarily including solar, wind, low-emissions bioenergy, geothermal and small-scale hydro power. They say these climate stabilization programs can serve as a major new engine of job creation and economic well-being throughout the states, both in the short- and longer run, estimating that, as an average over 2021-30, a clean energy investment program scaled at about $21 billion year will generate roughly 165,000 per year in Ohio, and a program scaled at about $26 billion per year will generate roughly 174,000 jobs per year in Pennsylvania.
They further present investment programs for each state in the areas of public infrastructure, manufacturing, land restoration and agriculture. Targeting investment areas including manufacturing R&D, broadband development, regenerative agriculture and plugging orphaned oil and gas wells, they find that investments of $8.2 billion per year in Pennsylvania and $7 billion per year in Ohio per year over 2021-30, equal to about 1% of each state’s 2019 GDP, would generate about 78,000 jobs per year in the Keystone State and 70,000 per year in the Buckeye State.
Overall, they find that the combination of investments in clean energy, manufacturing/infrastructure and land restoration/agriculture will create about 252,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and 235,000 jobs in Ohio, while providing the foundation for a long-term sustainable growth path for the states.
The reports, Economic Recovery and Clean Energy Transition for Ohio and Pennsylvania, are available on PERI’s website. The project was commissioned by The Heinz Endowments, the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies, Policy Matters Ohio, the Keystone Research Center and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.