Elizabeth Fairchild
(202) 861-1270


Washington, DC Business Forward Foundation released the latest update in its Answering America series, which helps local business leaders answer the questions their neighbors are asking about critical issues. Can We Fix Climate Change Without Wrecking Our Economy? explains how switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could bring hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue and millions of new jobs to American communities that need it most.

“Climate skeptics have argued for years that switching to renewable energy will increase energy costs and force manufacturers to move jobs to China, so it’s reasonable for Americans to question whether switching from coal, oil, and gas will hurt our economy,” explained Liz Fairchild, executive director of Business Forward Foundation. “But energy represents less than 1% of a manufacturer’s total cost. Switching to renewables doesn’t increase that cost significantly in the short-term and will probably lower those costs in the long-term,” explained Fairchild. “On the cost side, it’s insignificant.”

“By comparison, the majority of manufacturers’ budgets, about 60%, comes from their supply chains, which are getting hammered by extreme temperatures, droughts, floods, and hurricanes,” said Fairchild. “Manufacturers are far more worried about severe weather than they are about switching from coal to renewable energy.”

“Also, renewable energy supports more — and better — jobs than fossil fuels,” Fairchild explained. “These are high-paying jobs that require a range of skills and training, which creates a real opportunity to build a robust workforce. Even better, these projects, jobs, and investment will go toward distressed communities that need it most.”

For communities struggling with shrinking tax bases and workforces from population decline, building renewables would inject hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs. “For Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, alone, shifting from importing fossil fuels to clean energy production is a $53 billion opportunity to buy local. By 2030, total direct benefits from wind and solar projects in rural America could reach $220 billion,” Fairchild added.

“Americans who worry about renewable energy should trust the energy sector analysts who predict that two-thirds of the world’s power will be clean by 2050,” Fairchild continued. “The energy race is over: clean energy won. We’re already benefiting from the virtuous cycle of clean energy. The costs of solar and batteries have fallen 90% since 2009, and by 71% for wind. American solar capacity grew 80-fold in the last decade. Shifting to clean energy isn’t just about cleaning up the planet; it is critical to America’s economic competitiveness.”

“China and the EU are out-investing the U.S. in renewables. That needs to change if we want to reestablish America as a global leader in clean energy innovation and spur a long-lasting, sustainable economic recovery.”

Read the report to learn more about the business case for clean energy.



The Business Forward Foundation is an independent research and education organization that takes a business-minded look at policy issues affecting America’s economic competitiveness. Our work combines insights and advice from business leaders across the country with rigorous policy analysis. Through white papers, issue briefs, conference calls, and other events, we educate policy makers and the public about climate change, immigration reform, infrastructure investment, the future of work, and other critical issues.