The Trump administration has continuously claimed that the presence of fossil fuel industries are needed for job growth. But new data released from the Department of Energy doesn’t back that claim up, IPS Climate Policy director Basav Sen told Rising Up with Sonali.

“It shows that renewable energy provides disproportionately more jobs than fossil fuels. So what the administration really wants is to preserve the profits of fossil fuel industries and their CEOs,” he explained.

What we’re seeing as federal climate policy becomes more irresponsible is that the states are picking up the slack.

IPS recently released a report on states’ roles in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy, mainly through a strategy of implementing and expanding Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). RPS is legislation at the state level that mandates utilities to increase the share of energy that they get from renewables, while decreasing the share of electrical power coming from fossil fuels, Sen explained. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. currently have existing RPS, with the potential to expand their plans and raise targets, Sen explained, setting up a good example for grassroots people to enact RPS in states that are less friendly to renewable energy.

“The key to creating RPS legislation is to build a multi-issue and multi-sector coalition that brings together low income communities, people of color, small businesses, and rural communities,” Sen said. “The idea is to impress upon state legislators that there is a very broad base of support, which can counteract the influence of big businesses and fossil fuel industries.”

The states that have been most successful ensured that they were adopting clean energy in fair and equitable ways, where low-income communities could reap the benefits of renewable energy, such as solar energy, too.

“Most low income communities are made up of renters, who can’t install solar panels if they rent or live in multiple family apartments. But there is a growing trend of sharing renewables in the form of offsite solar panels, collectively owned by people living in communities, located on the roofs public buildings,” Sen explained.

Furthermore, Sen’s report found that solar energy already accounts for nearly 43 percent of direct U.S. employment in electric power generation even thought it only makes up a tiny fraction of the energy we use to power our country.

“So you can imagine how many more jobs will be created if instead of investing in obsolete technologies like coal, we put our money and public investment in expanding wind and solar energy,” Sen concluded.

Watch the full interview on Rising up with Sonali. 

Basav Sen directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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