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What Is a Green-Collar Job, Exactly? – TIME

January 1, 2012

What do presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have in common — aside from the obvious? They all love green-collar jobs. Obama promises to spend $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million new green-collar jobs. Clinton references the term repeatedly on the trail, and says her energy plan will create millions of new green-collar jobs as well. McCain is less willing to cite numbers, but he too assures campaign audiences that action to decarbonize America‘s economy will produce “thousands, millions of new jobs in America.”

All of which sounds great — we clean up the environment, control global warming and create an entirely new sector of employment while we’re at it. Academics have released lots of studies trumpeting the potential for green jobs — one report by the RAND Corporation and University of Tennessee found that if 25% of all American energy were produced from renewable sources by 2025, we would generate at least 5 million new green jobs. But there are just a few questions: what is green-collar? What makes it different from blue- or white-collar? And where will those jobs come from?

Phil Angelides has the answers — or at least one of them. A venture capitalist and the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor of California (he lost to the political world’s best-known Austrian-American#, Angelides is the chair of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor and environmental groups championing green employment. Here’s how he defines a green job: “It has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.” #Hear Angelides discuss the green-collar revolution on this week’s Greencast.)

Sounds simple enough. And there are some jobs that fall obviously into the green-collar category, like the hundreds of employees who now work for the Spanish wind company Gamesa at its new plant in Fairless Hills, Pa. — a plant built on the site of an old U.S. Steel manufacturing facility. If you make wind turbines or solar panels, your job is reliably green. But Angelides and his allies want to cast a wider net. To them, a green-collar job can be anything that helps put America on the path to a cleaner, more energy efficient future. That means jobs in the public transit sector, jobs in green building, jobs in energy efficiency — even traditional, blue-collar manufacturing jobs, provided what you’re making is more or less green. (Building an SUV? Blue-collar. Building a hybrid? Green-collar.) The category can get a little messy. “You don’t want to greenwash,” says Angelides. “You don’t want to call something a green-collar job that doesn’t have the wages or background to support it.”

But there c

via What Is a Green-Collar Job, Exactly? – TIME.

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