Addressing Climate Change Grows Our Economy, Creates Jobs

The economic costs of climate change are now clear. From weather-related disasters like Superstorm Sandy to droughts that have wiped out family farms and fueled devastating fires, the United States suffered 11 climate-related disasters last year alone that cost $1 billion -- each.

But the economic benefits of addressing climate change by investing in clean energy and energy efficiency are now clear too.

Over the last four years, we've doubled the electricity we get from wind and solar. We've seen dramatic increases -- and dramatic savings -- from efficiency in our automobiles, buildings and appliances. Along the way, we've created more than 3.4 million jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related fields, and injected billions of dollars into our economy in clean energy investments and energy efficiency savings.

These jobs are being created in every corner of our country. My organization, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), tracked more than 300 clean energy and clean transportation job announcements nationwide last year that are expected to create more than 110,000 made-in-America jobs -- jobs growing next-generation biofuels in places like Iowa; jobs building solar panels in North Carolina and jobs creating next-generation battery technology in Michigan and California.

It is for these reasons that more than 250 members of E2 recently signed a letter supporting President Obama's plan to cut carbon pollution and address climate change with commonsense initiatives that will help both the environment and the economy.

E2 members know that sound climate and energy policies like the president's plan will grow our economy and create jobs and businesses. Our members have collectively financed, started or helped develop more than 1,400 companies that have created more than 500,000 jobs. E2 members currently manage more than $108 billion in private equity capital that over the next several years will flow into new companies and fund a new generation of new entrepreneurs.

But E2 members aren't the only ones who get it.

-- U.S. companies from Nike to Coors to Starbucks have all warned that climate change is -- and will continue -- to affect their bottom lines.

-- Munich RE, the world's largest reinsurer, found that weather-related loss events in North America have quintupled in the last three decades, growing faster than anyplace in the world.

-- And a recent economic study by Synapse Energy Economics and the Natural Resources Defense Council (of which E2 is an affiliate) found that cutting carbon pollution from power plants -- the centerpiece of President Obama's climate initiative -- will help create more than 210,000 U.S. jobs in clean energy, energy efficiency and other areas.

President Obama's plan to reduce carbon pollution and increase our supply of renewable energy achieves another pivotal objective for the American economy. It finally sends a clear market signal to businesses that our nation is serious about developing and deploying the next generation of energy technologies. That will continue to drive American innovation and job creation across our country.

It's the kind of policy that should be welcome by anybody who cares about America's economic resilience and prosperity in the 21st century.