Posts tagged ‘energy’

Update: Waxman-Markey, Stimulus Dollars, and Green Jobs Training

Carolyn ThumbnailPenned by Carolyn

Watching this one minute video review of the energy bill in the House, one word resonates again and again: jobs. The potential for job creation in moving towards a clean energy future has become a rallying cry for proponents of the Waxman-Markey Bill — because who can argue with job creation when unemployment has officially hit 9.5% nationally?

In the past couple weeks, the Labor Department announced $500 million in grants for green jobs training programs. States and cities have also started to distribute stimulus dollars for training programs. If you’re interested in who’s getting funding and how, sign up for updates from Green for All — they’ve been giving a number of conference calls to keep folks in the loop and share information nationally about training programs. Most of the money that’s being doled out focuses on helping blue-collar workers transition into the green economy — providing “pathways out of poverty” as the nation undergoes energy retrofits, solar system installation, and more.

But some concerns remain. Yesterday, the New York Times brought into question the effectiveness of retraining programs in giving trainees a leg up in the job search. As the Times wrote, “a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were ‘small or nonexistent’ for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.”

Hopefully, the green jobs training programs will avoid the pitfalls that have led to the concerns raised by the NYT article, and will lend a hand to folks from all backgrounds and work histories — we hear from a lot of people who are looking to transfer technical skill sets and haven’t yet found a clear pathway in helping them do so. We have to believe that, with all the energy and enthusiasm focused on the green sector right now, there couldn’t be a better moment for these programs to succeed in training the next generation of environmental leaders.

To that end, we’ll continue to provide advice and resources to our jobseekers (keep an eye out for Bright Green Seminars starting in the next couple months), and we’ll support our partner Solar Richmond as they seek stimulus funding to support their amazing solar installation training program.

Stay tuned… more exciting developments are surely on the way.

July 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm 1 comment

Strange Bedfellows?: Chevron vs. Sierra Club

Dave O'Reilly and Carl PopePenned by Carolyn

Last night, Christina and I attended a debate between Carl Pope (Executive Director of the Sierra Club) and Dave O’Reilly (CEO of Chevron). Given scheduling and, I imagine, some dragging of feet from both parties, it took the Commonwealth Club and the Wall Street Journal a full year to get this event organized.

On the bus home, a couple thoughts on the event stayed with me.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I worked with the media team in Sierra Club National Headquarters for a couple semesters while I was in school. One of the first things I learned about pitching a story was, of course, that it has to have a hook. One of the most compelling of these hooks is a “strange bedfellows” story, where two groups that wouldn’t traditionally be lumped together that share a common cause or campaign (such as Sierra Club’s “Blue Green Alliance” with the United Steel Workers or their work with hunters and anglers to preserve wildlife habitat).

Last night’s event had some shade of that type of hook – which is probably why it seemed like half of San Francisco was in attendance. This is not to say in any means that Sierra Club and Chevron are in cahoots – in fact, Sierra Club has long made the oil giant a target of campaigns around environmental justice and destruction. However, at one point in the conversation, Dave O’Reilly (consciously or not) conceded that he believed the coal lobby in Washington was too strong for natural gas to have a real chance of being implemented on a large scale. Carl Pope jumped on the opportunity to invite O’Reilly to join him in DC to take a stand against the coal lobby – and the two men shook on it. I’d guess Sierra Club will try to hold O’Reilly to this promise — which he may not be able to wiggle out of, given that the event was swarming with local and national media and will be broadcast on NPR.

Beyond this potential lobbying duo becoming “strange bedfellows,” I think it symbolizes a larger movement towards cooperation between the large non-profits and environmental lobbies and the companies they’ve long been harshly criticizing. At Sierra Club, this move follows last year’s launch of the “GreenWorks” line with Clorox — another case of unprecedented cooperation and dialogue between big industry and the Club.

For us at Bright Green Talent, this is hugely energizing. We too believe that there’s no longer any way to tackle the world’s environmental problems without everyone’s cooperation – this is, for example, why we’ve chosen to work with Wal-Mart to help them grow their sustainability team. Many of the giant green non-profits – Conservation International, EDF, NRDC – are pursuing similar private-public partnerships.

But don’t worry – we’re not letting Chevron off the hook just for shaking hands with the opposition. Pope also called for Chevron and the other large oil companies to set aside 10% of their profits for 10 years to create a fund that would clean up all the communities and ecosystems that have been devastated by oil development over the past century. And we side with Pope and the Sierra Club as they call for ambitious and significant decreases in carbon emissions (80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050), rather than allowing industry to hide behind claims that those goals “just aren’t realistic.” We still need people and organizations to stand up for communities who don’t have a voice — such as the protestors who stood up last night to bring awareness to Chevron’s hand in environmental contamination in Ecuador.

Most significantly, where there used to be a thick wall over which each party hurled insults and accusations, there is now a live and potentially constructive, dialogue. Strange bedfellows or not, it’s time to act together and move towards a prosperous low-carbon future.

Want to see it for yourself?

Watch for the event to be rebroadcast on NPR; here’s a video from San Francisco local news. Sierra Club has posted some thoughts and will add video highlights.

Reuters also picked up the story, with a great exchange:

Pope criticised U.S. energy regulation for not forcing utilities to buy more low-carbon electricity. “Well, if you can get the government to move faster, then good luck,” O’Reilly said.
Pope replied, to applause: “It would help if you would get out of the way.”

Photo from Sierra Club

June 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm 1 comment

Burning the Midnight Fluorescent

It’s 8p PST, and I’m still at the office. The halogens and CFL’s are burning bright, casting an eerie glow off the window as the sun sets deep on the western horizon. What’s curious is that most of the office lights across the street are off. I find it interesting not because it means people aren’t working, but because San Francisco is one of the first to threaten to penalize (read: fine) buildings for leaving their lights on at night. From a first-hand perspective, it seems there’s no need–most of the lights are already off. And then you crane your neck around the corner and open the view (we’ve got a rather narrow one at the moment), and suddenly you see it: a cornicopia of energy consumer lights patch worked across the night sky! Hundreds, if not more, of these little kilowatt zappers humming uselessly in the night air! I’ve never quite understood it, and certainly don’t support it, but for  Gaia’s sake, can we all agree that we don’t need to leave lights on when we’re not in the room! Americans have much to learn from Europeans (and I’m sure the rest of the world) when it comes to energy conservation…perhaps the most important of which is don’t work so late you find yourself contemplating things like this?!

August 5, 2008 at 3:05 am Leave a comment

Two Birds, One Solution

Posted by Nick

Social and environmental justice enterprises are beginning to show their true colors as we enter the 21st century. In large part, initiatives like Micro Energy Credits are merely a function of the emergent financial opportunities embedded in bottom of the pyramid, distributed business models focused on modernizing economies.

On another hand, they are reflective of a larger consumer awakening that each purchase need not be a open-loop process of consumption and disposal without regard to the environment or community. Instead, consumers are realizing that these processes can be closed loop, zero-impact, virtuous cycles that benefit not only their bottom line and immediate community, but the long-term health of the planet. This third dimension–sustainability (in some regards time)–which is increasingly held accountable on personal and business balance sheets is quickly changing the financial marketplace worldwide.

Grameen Bank, Micro Energy Credits, and others capitalize on this increasing consumer awareness to great effect, effectively killing two birds with one stone, and in the process, creating positive environmental and social change. Though killing two birds with one stone through market mechanisms is not novel, it has never has it felt so good and so sustainable.

May 15, 2008 at 5:13 am Leave a comment


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