Archive for the 'Green for All' Category

Gender Gap in Youth Green Jobs

Right now, a lot of youth are fighting to stop the tar sands. A lot more are just trying to find a job. Last year, Michael Davidson and I wrote about our work to try to understand if green jobs could be youth jobs. The results were pretty good — young people were underrepresented in green job creation in the U.S., but not by much.

This year, we tried to see if the situation had changed. Turns out not much – U.S. youth probably are still getting fewer green jobs compared to other age groups and compared to how many jobs we have in the economy overall. So, pretty good news. And if investing in clean energy and climate change-fighting solutions will create more jobs than business as usual, or  more fossil fuel investments — and the green jobs research says it will — then that will probably mean more jobs for youth. Green jobs will be youth jobs.

Gender Differences in U.S. Youth Green Jobs

Young women have not benefited from green job creation as much as young men.Source: Muro, Mark, Jonathan Rothwell, and Devashree Saha. 2011. Sizing the Clean Economy. Washington: Brookings Institution. Available at Accessed October 1, 2011.Source: 2012. Table 15. Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, and age, Annual Average 2011. Washington: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unpublished work tables from the Current Population Survey. Received March 1, 2012.
Brookings data sums to more than 100% due to rounding.

But then we asked — which youth will have those green jobs? And here things don’t look so great.

We got pretty good data for male/female breakdown within youth jobs (at least for ages 16-24, and without data on transgender youth). When we matched this gender data up with the green jobs and youth data, we got this table. The categories are from a cool Brookings Institute clean energy jobs report, but don’t worry too much about them. Instead, check out the gold boxes at the bottom right.

In the overall economy, young men and women are almost even in how many of us have jobs — we’re 6.4% of all jobs in the economy for dudes, and 6.0% for girls (putting it together, youth have 12.4% of all jobs in the economy, compared to 10.9% of the clean energy economy).

But in the clean energy economy (at least as of 2011), male youth have about 7.5% of all the jobs, while female youth only have 3.5%. This is basically the same trend I found for all age groups in past research – men outnumber women for direct green jobs. I also found disparities across races and ethnicities, but there isn’t good data on this for just youth, so more work is need to understand where else youth green job creation might be unequal.

The good news is what we’ve said before – if investing in green jobs creates more jobs overall, this will probably mean more jobs in total for both genders. But, for now at least, men will benefit comparatively more.

Can we change this? Probably. But so far, we haven’t even been talking about the issue. Now that we know the situation, we can start figuring out solutions to help make sure green jobs are green jobs for all.

Want much more detail? Dive into the full report (don’t worry, it’s only 17 pages, and most of those are tables).

Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?

This post was co-written with Michael Davidson.

Image credit: UOPowerShift09Just in case our 5 years of swarming state capitals decked out in green hard hats, running campaigns calling for more jobs in clean energy, and vowing to only vote for candidates who support renewable energy companies hasn’t made it clear — youth really want more green jobs.

While young people have been some of the biggest advocates for green jobs, no one has really tried to answer the question of whether green jobs will be youth jobs? Will more green jobs mean more jobs for youth, or will young people miss out on the very green jobs we’ve worked so hard to create?

So far, the answer has been “we don’t know.” That’s because, despite all of the green jobs studies that have been done, none of them has really looked at the different kinds of people who actually get green jobs (one exception is for income and education level). This is especially true across different races, ethnicities, genders, and, yeah, ages. So, we set out to change that, writing the first study we know of to look at youth access to green jobs, and also the first written by youth. Continue reading ‘Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?’

Youth Forge Solutions Nationwide – All Are Welcome

At a youth climate meeting in Minnesota in January 2008, a neat idea emerged from discussion:

‘We need to start training young people, not just FOR green jobs, but TO CREATE green jobs. We should start in the Twin Cities this summer.’

Fast-forward three years, and over 250 young people have been trained over three years in Summer of Solutions programs around the country to create innovative and self-sustaining solutions around energy efficiency, green industry, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and smart transportation and design that advance job creation, social justice, and community empowerment. A network of over 70 youth leaders has coalesced to launch a national organization from nothing and develop 2011 Summer of Solutions programs that will support hundreds of youth in creating the clean energy economy in 15 cities nationwide. These programs have expanded rapidly in number, quality, and sustainability over the years without grant support, and with a major influx of funding and leadership in late 2010, we’re just hitting our stride.

As you read on, I’d encourage you to think of any young people (individuals or groups) who might be interested in a summer program based on community-based innovation in the clean energy economy. If so, please invite them to apply to any of our 15 programs nationwide by April 24th at

Continue reading ‘Youth Forge Solutions Nationwide – All Are Welcome’

Utah commissions independent clean energy report, hides the findings, crashes my computer

Warning: the Utah Department of Commerce and the state’s major electric utility really don’t want you to know the following information, and they will hijack your computer to keep you from getting it:

The administration of Utah’s former Governor Jon M. Huntsman (now U.S. Ambassador to China) commissioned an independent study to figure out how much, if anything, the state could save by switching to alternative, clean forms of energy.  Utah currently gets almost all of its energy through fossil fuel combustion, 82% of which uses coal.

Coal-fired power plant

Report says these things are dirty and expensive; report get's an "F" from state

It appears the current administration (Gary Herbert) and his coal-burning buddies don’t like what the report had to say:

“This [coal-based] resource mix…results in significant emissions of air pollutants and consumes a large share of Utah’s increasingly valuable water resources. The authors estimate that fossil generation in Utah today:

–consumes about 73,800 acre feet, or 24 billion gallons, of fresh water per year; results in 202 premature deaths per year;
–contributes to 154 hospital visits per year for respiratory injuries, and 175 asthma-related emergency room visits each year.

We estimate that the health and water impacts from Utah fossil generation have a monetary value of between $1.7 and $2.0 billion dollars per year (2008$), or between $36 and $43 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of fossil generation in Utah, a value similar to the direct costs of conventional electricity generation.”

Naturally, at this point, I would include a link to the PDF of the report. But I don’t want to do that to you. Get this: if you surf over to the PDF on the state’s website, a giant pop-up window (disavowing the findings) appears, the rest of the screen goes dark, and there is no way to click out of it. I’m no computer genius, so I had to “ctrl-alt-delete” and restart my laptop  just to finish this post. Sheesh. Continue reading ‘Utah commissions independent clean energy report, hides the findings, crashes my computer’

Commonwealth Challenge: Will Massachusetts Lead the Next American Revolution?

Today Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced a $63 million investment to retrofit 4300 public housing units. The plan trumps Chicago’s $43 million project as the nation’s largest energy efficiency investment in public housing.

Mayor Menino’s announcement comes after Massachusetts finalized a three-year plan to triple utility investments in energy efficiency. Boston and the State of Massachusetts are moving toward a clean energy future. But will it be enough?

An emerging coalition of faith, business, environmental, and workforce development groups are joining The Leadership Campaign in challenging the Massachusetts State Legislature to double-down on recent clean energy and energy efficiency investments by creating a task force to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2020. The campaign – The Commonwealth Challenge, launched on March 4th – is not your typical political initiative.

Continue reading ‘Commonwealth Challenge: Will Massachusetts Lead the Next American Revolution?’

Youth Less Concerned About Global Warming than their Elders?

Today the Yale Project on Climate Change is releasing a report entitled, “The Climate Change Generation?: Survey Analysis of the Perceptions and Beliefs of Young Americans.” Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Photo Credit: Dakota Fine

American adults under the age of 35 have come of age in the decades since the “discovery” of man-made climate change as a major societal problem. The oldest of this cohort was twelve in 1988, when NASA climate scientist James Hansen testified at a Senate Energy Committee hearing that global temperature rise was underway and that human-produced greenhouse gases were almost certainly responsible. For this reason, the conventional wisdom holds that young Americans, growing up in a world of ever more certain scientific evidence, increasing news attention, alarming entertainment portrayals, and school-based curricula, should be more engaged with and concerned about the issue of climate change than older Americans.

However, contrary to this conventional wisdom, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are, for the most part, split on the issue of global warming and, on some indicators, relatively disengaged when compared to older generations. Continue reading ‘Youth Less Concerned About Global Warming than their Elders?’

The power of Dr. King’s dream changed my life

Growing up as a child in East Oakland, CA, poverty and pollution were the backdrops of my day-to-day life. A major freeway poured exhaust fumes onto my elementary school grounds, and the creek in my backyard ran thick with waste. We were just kids, chasing tadpoles despite the stench. But I grew up fast. I lost my mother to the streets when I was only six. Soon after, I lost my father to prison.

Despite losing my mom, the draw of the money that I saw young men making selling drugs was strong. I decided I’d get mine too. In January of 2005, I was arrested for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine and marijuana.
It’s a familiar tale, right? My story, though, turns out differently than too many of the people I grew up with.
Given the choice of jail or school, I chose to enroll at a community college. While there, I learned about the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. I decided I needed to build something lasting for my community. I began the journey that would lead me to Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College.

Continue reading ‘The power of Dr. King’s dream changed my life’

Top 10 Youth Climate Moments of the ’00s

This morning I spent some time reflecting on the most memorable moments of the past decade. My own roots as a climate activist began at age 20 when I had the privilege of attending a Student Climate Summit in the Hague in November 2000. Since that time the youth climate movement has grown from a small but dedicated group scattered across a few college campuses to a bona-fide movement of millions worldwide now shaping the agenda of global politics.
Here are ten moments that remind me most of how far we’ve come:
This list is admittedly skewed toward a U.S. perspective. While researching the list over the last several hours, I came across so many other inspiring stories. If you, like me, just can’t get enough of climate history, take a look at 17 more incredible moments from the past decade…

A Time For Pragmatism

Cell-phone camera of 100,000 marching for climate change

@UNFCCC #COP15 #FAIL. You could have tweeted it before any arriving delegates strolled from their jets to their waiting limos. All that sign waving (and wow was there a lot of it!) inspired millions waving their own banners at home, but the windowless plenary wasn’t paying attention. A significant number of anarchists got beat up and gave the mainstream media their cover story. In the end we observed a handful of rich countries smoking cigars in a backroom, playing dice with human life. The UN, of course, did “take note.” So did we, and clearly we’re not clicking any “Like” buttons on this one.

What are we going to do? Shout louder? Damn straight. Sign 365 new petitions before COP16? Hell yes. Consolidate our resources into the most powerful lobbying organization in the world? YE… um, what?

Not kidding. There are limits to non-violence. We’ve reached them. It’s time to enter the ring, line the gloves with brass knuckles and bloody the opposition. I mean that figuratively. Put the brass knuckles down.

In concrete terms, we must, right now, consolidate our movement, enlist the best of the best lobbyists, persuade middle-America into a sustainability frenzy and get ourselves elected to local government where we can be most effective. Our united campaign must start immediately. We’ve got until the elections next November.

That’s the general vision. Details after the jump.
Continue reading ‘A Time For Pragmatism’

G20: A Future We Deserve

The following was part of a press briefing at the US Climate Action Network Organized press conference in Pittsburgh, USA coinciding with the G-20 Summit.  International youth gathered together to voice concerns over the need to “green” the economic recovery of the planet–high on the agenda of the world leaders gathered there. Youth Press Advisory

Two years ago at the UN Climate negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, I happened to have the opportunity to attend as a member of the US youth delegation (because I was studying in the US). Upon arriving at the negotiations and after countless hours spent submitting our policy proposals to the UN Convention I realized that there is a growing and vibrant youth movement dedicated to the cause. These youth are actively trying to influence the negotiations. I became conscious of the fact that there were not any Indian youth in this growing international youth caucus present on the sidelines of the conference. I decided to introduce myself to the Indian Government negotiators as a “youth representative.” I was met with a cold and blank stare and then asked, “youth? Shouldn’t they have the same view as their elders?” I knew then that my life would never be the same again.

To be fair, I respect my elders and I know that there are many out there who are on the “far side of fifty” (age 50 that is) who have worked hard to make the world a better place. Generations have come and gone and nearly all of them have had a defining issue to tackle. My generation, labeled the “silent generation” by Thomas Friedman, is caught behind our computers and on facebook, having struggled to come to terms with the seemingly perfect world with an uncertain future of which we are not in control.Many in the climate movement are aware of the political deadlock between developed and developing nations over the issue of climate equity and historical emissions and responsibilities. Though we claim to be talking climate for the sake of future generations, nothing that we are doing is actually putting future generations in a better environment than that enjoyed by generations passed. So let’s get serious about generational equity because those in control sure aren’t.

While the climate crisis looms, we are currently consumed by a financial crisis that has gripped the planet.Just as financial institutions played with the public’s money, we are playing with the global commons that is our climate. We already know the impacts of unabated borrowing of money that does not exist. Can we play the same game with the lives of future generations as we borrow for our unsustainable growth today?

Global leaders are meeting at the summit in Pittsburgh and on the agenda is rebuilding the planet’s economy and hopefully, cooling down the planet. Let us turn this economic crisis into an opportunity of global proportions and usher a new era of genuine, sustainable development. I come from a young country—75% youth–that is facing many challenges. My own ancestral home in the desert sands of western Rajasthan only received electricity a year ago—electricity promised to my grandfather 25 years ago. Yet it is a land bursting with opportunity. Sure enough there is an army of youth in India that are ready to take that stand and that are dreaming of a clean, green country – one which will take this opportunity to build a green economy and support the growth of a green jobs movement. With 500 million people still in the dark, there are millions to be trained in sustainable energy enterprises alone. Let us not forget that this is a country that has half a million engineers graduating annually—a potentially potent force to engineer the country into the paragon of sustainable development.

While youth are 48% of the global population they are not an official part of the negotiation process at the international level. Though many of us are silent, many more are launching revolutions to transform our local communities. I was transformed by my experience in Bali and knew that in the labyrinth process of the negotiations all sense of urgency—of our future—is lost. This hopelessness was transcended through the creation of the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) which has grown in waves and caught the attention of young people, civil society, companies and the same government that questioned the role of youth on the topic two years ago. Similarly youth movements for the cause are rising across the planet—daring governments to break the deadlock. We envision a future which ensures the survival of all peoples and all nations. The debate is old and it is time for some fresh air. A bail-out for the planet is a bailout we will not regret.

Green for All

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