What can one state contribute to protecting the global climate? According to a new report “Connecticut’s Clean Energy Future: Climate goals and employment benefits,” Connecticut can realize its official climate goal – reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050 – while adding more than six thousand jobs to the state economy and saving money on electricity, heating, and transportation costs. [Download report]

The report was prepared by the Labor Network for Sustainability and the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, with research conducted at Synapse Energy Economics by Dr. Frank Ackerman, Tyler Comings, and Spencer Fields.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Jeremy Brecher, co-Founder of Labor Network for Sustainability, said, “Connecticut has often been told that doing its share to save the earth’s climate will threaten its workers’ jobs. ‘Connecticut’s Clean Energy Future’ refutes that claim. Its climate protection plan will produce more than 6,700 new jobs per year over business as usual projections through 2050. Two-thirds of the jobs created will be in the high-wage construction and manufacturing sectors.”

Sal Luciano, Executive Vice President of the CT AFL-CIO, noted that “the Connecticut AFL-CIO has taken a strong stand on climate change because it threatens the lives and livelihoods of working people in Connecticut, the United States, and the world – and also because climate protection can be a source of good jobs for Connecticut workers. ‘Connecticut’s Clean Energy Future’ shows how we can put our people to work protecting the climate.”

Two weeks ago, delegates to the CT AFL-CIO’s biennial constitutional convention passed a resolution (http://bit.ly/1WRMr0g) stating that “Labor is compelled to take a leading role” in addressing climate change and urging the new Governor’s Council on Climate Change “to develop and implement … a detailed jobs plan as part of their comprehensive climate change action plan.”

John Harrity, President of the CT State Council of Machinists and a member of the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs steering committee, highlighted the significance of the report: “As the Governor’s Council on Climate Change prepares to develop a new climate change action plan to achieve the state’s mandated goal, the new report brings the good news that the goal for 2050 ‘is not only feasible but will also increase jobs and strengthen our economy in the process.’ We can create good, stable jobs in a growing climate protection sector: manufacturing jobs, jobs for those who have been marginalized in the current labor market, and jobs for skilled union workers in the construction trades.”

State Representative James Albis, co-Chair of the Environment Committee, expressed his support for the report’s findings: “This report confirms that Connecticut’s clean energy future is not just good for the environment but for our economy as well. Building a clean energy infrastructure will create good middle-class jobs and save energy costs in the long-run. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature and more specifically with the Environment Committee, to help move Connecticut toward a cleaner and greener energy future.”

Although he was unable to attend the press conference, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal provided a statement in response to the report: “Reducing carbon emissions and curbing climate change is not only possible—it’s necessary for the future of our planet, the health and safety of our children, and the strength of our economy. Investing in clean energy and energy efficiency is a win-win for job growth and the environment, and this report should serve as a mandate for action not only here in Connecticut but nationwide. I will continue to work with the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs and other advocates to promote smart economic growth and a cleaner environment.”

Similarly, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy provided this statement: “The fact of the matter is that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. When we make smarter use of the clean energy technology already at our disposal, we can put more Connecticut residents to work – nearly 7,000 each year – and drive economic growth,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs’ new report provides clear evidence that a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand, and I look forward to working with them and their partners to put this plan into action.”

Jameelah Muhammad, Sierra Club’s Senior Organizing Representative for the Electric Vehicle Initiative CT/MA and William Dornbos, Acadia Center’s Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney, praised the report’s focus on electrifying the transportation sector: “We applaud the vision presented in the Clean Energy Future. It presents a realistic plan for achieving the state’s climate goals that is consistent with the work our organizations are doing on electric vehicles. The jobs study calls for electrification of the state’s transportation system, and our own recent study called “Charging Up,” shows how we can accomplish that. With a stronger market for plug-in vehicles, we’ll have greater opportunities for jobs in the domestic electrical, auto, and utilities sectors. Sierra Club and Acadia Center look forward to working with the Roundtable and its allies in making the Clean Energy Future a reality here in CT.”

Dr. Frank Ackerman, an economist at Synapse Energy Economics, presented the highlights of the Connecticut report, which is based on the national study “The Clean Energy Future: Protecting the Climate, Creating Jobs, and Saving Money” released October 14, 2015. The national study lays out an aggressive strategy for energy efficiency and renewable energy that will:

  • Transform the electric system, cutting coal-fired power in half by 2030 and eliminating it by 2050; building no new nuclear plants; and reducing the use of natural gas far below business-as-usual levels.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 86 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, in the sectors analyzed (which account for three-quarters of US GHG emissions).
  • Save money – the cost of electricity, heating, and transportation under this plan is $78 billion less than current projections from now through 2050.
  • Create new jobs – more than 500,000 per year over business as usual projections through 2050.

The Clean Energy Future represents a pathway away from climate destruction that is also far better for workers and consumers than our current pathway based on fossil fuels. Connecticut can start moving now to gain its share of the benefits of the Clean Energy Future.

Launched in June 2012, the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs seeks to strengthen collaboration among Connecticut’s labor, environmental, and religious groups in advocating for public policies that address urgent concerns about climate change while creating good-paying jobs right here in our state.

The Labor Network for Sustainability was founded in 2009 based on an understanding that long-term sustainability cannot be achieved without environmental protection, economic fairness, and social justice. LNS believes we all need to be able to make a living on a living planet.

Synapse Energy Economics is a research and consulting firm specializing in energy, economic, and environmental topics. Since its inception in 1996, Synapse has grown to become a leader in providing rigorous analysis of the electric power sector for public interest and governmental clients.

The full video of the press conference to release “Connecticut’s Clean Energy Future” is posted on CT-N

Media coverage appears at WNPRWaterbury Republican-AmericanThe Connecticut Post Washington TimesWRAL