Climate plan could boost state economy by billions

The Bellingham Business Journal

An independent economic analysis indicates that Washington’s economy would grow by $3.3 billion and add 19,300 jobs if a regional plan to mitigate climate change and build a clean-energy economy goes into effect as designed starting in 2012.

“Here in Washington, we are already reaping the rewards of the early actions we have taken,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “In March, state economists reported that Washington is home to over 99,000 green jobs. This is evidence that businesses here are already forward-thinking, and that Washington can help lead the nation in sustainable methods and technology.”

The Washington Department of Ecology and the non-governmental Energy Foundation jointly commissioned the study to better understand the potential economic implications of a regional plan designed by the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).

The WCI is a coalition of seven U.S. states and four Canadian provinces working together to mitigate climate change, spur investment in clean-energy technologies that create green jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Its regional plan would reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Other jurisdictions are also realizing the economic benefits of climate mitigation and clean-energy efforts.

“State by state, region by region, all the economic analyses point in the same direction: government policies that foster greenhouse gas reductions have multiple benefits,” said Janice Adair, climate policy advisor to state Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “They help create jobs, improve efficiencies so we spend less on energy, and reduce the impacts of climate change. Our new economic assessment of the Western regional carbon market on Washington’s economy affirms this trend.”

The Washington economic analysis indicates that consumer and business spending on energy efficiency will create new jobs in 30 of 38 business sectors. Examples include: agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; construction; food manufacturing; wood product manufacturing; and paper manufacturing.

Business sectors where consumers and businesses are likely to have less money to spend include metal manufacturing, information, finance and insurance, real estate rental and leasing; professional and technical services; and administrative services.

“The smart, innovative businesses in these sectors can seize the opportunity to market their services to businesses in energy-efficiency growth sectors, and our state agencies and policy makers can help them,” Adair said.

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