Challenged by a down economy, two wars, and the need to fix our health care system, Congress might want to push other issues to the wayside. But Congress doesn’t have that luxury. Another very critical issue needs our attention: our action plan to address climate change.
Crafting legislation to reduce our contribution to climate change would also play a role in addressing today’s other immediate needs. Putting a price on greenhouse gas pollution would create a bigger market for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The jobs and industries created for developing clean energy technologies would help get the U.S. and Iowa economy back on track.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently estimated the climate-change legislation passed by the House would net Iowa 4,000 new jobs in 2020 and nearly 6,000 jobs by 2030.
Likewise, the Center for Rural Affairs looked at the job creation potential of requiring that 20 percent of electricity be generated by renewable energy before 2030. That research found that the wind energy developed in Iowa to meet this standard could create over 9,000 permanent jobs and over 60,000 temporary construction jobs in Iowa.
The benefits reach beyond job creation. Reducing our reliance on foreign fossil fuel sources is critical to national security and preventing future conflicts over energy and those that would result from the human tragedy associated with the worldwide impacts of climate change.
Furthermore, preventing the more frequent occurrence of catastrophic heat waves, flooding and drought anticipated for Iowa — if we continue emitting large amounts of greenhouse gas pollution — would go along way toward improving our health.
Addressing climate change is urgent work and must it stay on Congress’ long to-do list. We can’t continue business as usual for our economy, security or health. We can do better, and responding to the challenge of climate change is the way forward.
Posted by Teresa Galluzzo, Research Associate