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Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State

By J. Muin Cha, Ph.D. and Lara Skinner, Ph.D.- The Worker Institute - June 2017

Economic inequality in New York is rising. Currently, the state has the second highest level of economic inequality in the country. Unequal job growth across the state and stagnant wages in several sectors are two of the main contributors to rising inequality. While the state overall has seen several years of employment growth, there are stronger employment gains in New York City than in other parts of the state still suffering from job losses and stagnant employment levels. Additionally, in many sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, wages are not increasing at the same pace as inflation, leaving many workers with paychecks that fail to cover basic household costs.

At the same time, New York is falling far short of its necessary greenhouse gas pollution reductions. To stop catastrophic climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, which would require four times the current annual emissions reduction rate. By 2050, New York State’s emissions must be only a fraction of what they are now to meet the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets set to prevent irreversible damage. We are far from that target. In the transportation sector, emissions are actually increasing and energy sector emissions may also be increasing given likely underestimation of methane emissions from natural gas.

New York State can take action now to protect New Yorkers from the worst effects of climate change, and do our part in reducing global emissions, while also fighting against growing economic inequality. Extreme weather, such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, is predicted to become more the norm, not the exception. These recent extreme weather events highlighted New York’s deep inequality: some could afford to leave the city or move into hotels when their residences flooded while others were left stranded.

Adopting a bold and aggressive plan to invest in climate-addressing infrastructure can be an important step towards simultaneously addressing the crises of inequality and climate change head on and position New York as a national leader in charting the path to a low-carbon, equitable economy. The recommendations presented below aim to create good, high-road jobs that provide familysustaining wages and benefits for communities across the state. These proposals could also result in meaningful emissions reductions and put New York on the path to building an equitable clean-energy economy that can work for all New Yorkers. The authors hope this report helps spark additional research and policy development on how to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reverse inequality by protecting workers and creating good, family-sustaining jobs in new lowcarbon sectors. Future research, in particular, could perform a detailed analysis of the cost of job creation strategies in low-carbon sectors, how to finance these strategies, and a cost-benefit analysis that includes the cost of potential job loss and reduced economic activity in high-carbon sectors.

Read the Report (Link).

Offshore Wind Energy and Potential Economic Impacts in Long Island

By Staff - New York Energy Policy Institute and Stony Brook University, November 25, 2014

This study assesses the offshore wind energy and its potential economic impacts on Long Island. The study consists of four parts. It first reviews the literature on economic development benefits associated with wind energy development. We also assess the resource and market potentials of offshore wind based on four factors:

  • (a) prior estimates of offshore wind potential;
  • (b) federal leasing of submerged lands;
  • (c) state policies in support of offshore wind; and
  • (d) proposed offshore wind projects.

Existing research on the offshore wind supply chain is reviewed. These reviews are followed with an assessment of potential impacts on employment and economic activity in Long Island. This study employs JEDI model developed by National Renewable Energy Lab to determine the job creation and economic output associated with offshore wind development under two scenarios. This study reaches four major conclusions on the economic impacts of offshore wind energy on Long Island.

First, offshore wind energy can bring significant job and economic benefits to local economies. Previous studies provide varying estimates. Job creation associated with offshore wind development ranges from 7 to 42 jobs for each megawatt. It is reasonable, however, to conclude that offshore wind can generate about 20 jobs in a region with well-developed supply chain and approximately $3.3 million of new local economic development activity.

Second, states in the mid-Atlantic and northeast are rich in offshore wind resources, and have also established policies to support renewable energies, in certain cases including offshore wind.Our review of wind resources, siting and permitting restrictions, federal leasing, state policies, and market demand for offshore wind energy suggests that a Long Island-based offshore-wind industry can have a near-term addressable market of approximately 8,850 MW.

Third, the near-term local economic development opportunities are likely in foundations, blades and marine operations. Long Island is competitive in these areas because of its large, skilled labor base, experience in the aerospace industry and maritime industries.

This analysis finds that each offshore wind farm can produce hundreds of Long Island-based jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy. A single offshore wind farm (250 MW) built off Long Island coast can create 2,864 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs on Long Island or about 11 per MW, as well as approximately $645 million in local economic output, under a scenario assuming that the first offshore wind projects will have to use more service providers and equipment manufacturers outside Long Island as the Long Island supply-chain is built out. Under another scenario that assume Long Island offshore wind industry can achieve a scale of supporting 2,500 MW, more than 58 thousand FTE jobs and approximately $12.9 billion in local economic output can be expected. Our analysis suggests that offshore wind constitutes a significant opportunity for job creation and economic development on Long Island.

Read the report (PDF).

Untapped Wealth: Offshore Wind Can Deliver Cleaner, More Affordable Energy and More Jobs Than Offshore Oil

By staff - Oceana, September 2010

In Oceana’s report Untapped Wealth: Offshore Wind Can Deliver Cleaner, More Affordable Energy and More Jobs Than Offshore Oil, our comprehensive analysis shows that focusing our investments on clean energy like offshore wind would be cost effective, more beneficial to job creation, and better for the environment and ocean in a variety of ways than offshore oil and gas exploration and development.

On the Atlantic coast, an area targeted for expansion of oil and gas activities, offshore wind can generate nearly 30% more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources combined. In addition, wind development would cost about $36 billion less than offshore oil and gas production combined, while creating about three times as many jobs per dollar invested than fossil fuel production.

Based on conservative assumptions for offshore wind and generous assumptions for offshore oil and natural gas, this study found that by investing in offshore wind on the East Coast, rather than offshore oil and gas, Americans would get more energy for less money while protecting our oceans.

Read the report (PDF).


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