December 8, 2009

Keep your eye on Copenhagen for the jobs of the future and future economic growth

The Cophenhagen climate change summit is underway,  but it won't really be BIG news until after President Obama makes his speech before the conference closes.

A few weeks from now,  it will be spoken of in the same way that Kyoto was for many years.  Copenhagen is the next round in the effort to reach international consensus on the threats facing the environment.

When it's over and done,  there are many who will say that there is no crisis to consider.  Some will say that we can't afford to take action.  Some will say that with the economy the way it is,  it's the wrong time to act.

Most labor market analysts will tell you different.  The effort to control greenhouse gasses will create substantial employment opportunities.  As industries re-tool,  alternative power plants are built,  buildings are retrofitted,  energy efficient equipment is designed and manufactured,  and old,  energy inefficient equipment is replaced,  there will be ripples and waves throughout the economy and the labor market.

It's hard to see how this is not a good thing,  although there will be some who will insist on finding a cloud inside the silver lining.

Here's the comment of Nobel Prize winning Economist Paul Krugman from the New York Times:
"Should we be starting a project like this when the economy is depressed? Yes, we should — in fact, this is an especially good time to act, because the prospect of climate-change legislation could spur more investment spending.
Consider, for example, the case of investment in office buildings. Right now, with vacancy rates soaring and rents plunging, there’s not much reason to start new buildings. But suppose that a corporation that already owns buildings learns that over the next few years there will be growing incentives to make those buildings more energy-efficient. Then it might well decide to start the retrofitting now, when construction workers are easy to find and material prices are low.
The same logic would apply to many parts of the economy, so that climate change legislation would probably mean more investment over all. And more investment spending is exactly what the economy needs.
So let’s hope my optimism about Copenhagen is justified. A deal there would save the planet at a price we can easily afford — and it would actually help us in our current economic predicament."

Copyright, Cici Mattiuzzi, 2009