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Clean Energy As Stimulus (NYT)


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The center's former associate director, Paul Epstein, responds to Paul Krugman's article Reponding to Recession published in the New YorkTimes on January 14, 2008. He talks about the need to use energy as a part of the stimulus package discussed in the 2008 elections.

With the world grappling with the dual challenges of climate change and economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in clean energy has emerged as a potential solution to address both issues simultaneously. Clean energy, which includes renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower, can not only help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Clean Energy as a Job Creator

Investing in clean energy can create jobs in various sectors, from manufacturing and installation to maintenance and operation. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 could create over 42 million jobs worldwide. In the United States alone, the clean energy sector already employs over 3 million people, according to the 2021 Clean Jobs America report.

Clean Energy as an Economic Driver

Clean energy investment can also drive economic growth by stimulating innovation and infrastructure development. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), every $1 million invested in renewable energy can create 7.5 jobs, compared to 2.7 jobs in the fossil fuel industry. Moreover, investing in clean energy can boost local economies by increasing demand for goods and services, particularly in rural areas where renewable energy projects are often located.

Clean Energy as a Climate Solution

Investing in clean energy is also essential for mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified a rapid shift to renewable energy as one of the key strategies to limit global warming to below 1.5°C. Transitioning to clean energy sources can reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and enhance energy security, all while creating economic opportunities.

Clean Energy as a Stimulus Package

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have implemented stimulus packages to support their economies. Clean energy investment has been included in many of these packages as a means of creating jobs and boosting economic growth while addressing climate change. In the United States, the American Jobs Plan includes $174 billion in spending on electric vehicle infrastructure, clean energy research, and renewable energy deployment. The European Union's Next Generation EU plan includes a significant allocation for clean energy investments, such as offshore wind and green hydrogen projects.


Clean energy investment has the potential to address multiple challenges simultaneously, including climate change, economic recovery, and job creation. By investing in clean energy, governments can stimulate innovation, create jobs, and drive economic growth while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions and enhancing energy security. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of investing in sustainable and resilient systems, and clean energy should be at the center of post-pandemic stimulus plans.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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