Van Jones on a Green Economy
Van Jones is a social entrepreneur, CNN political contributor and host of The Messy Truth with Van Jones. Famous for his heart-felt election night coverage, Jones showed up as “the voice of reason” for people in red states and blue throughout the volatile 2016 political season. In response to much civil unrest and energy post-election, Jones launched the #Love Army -- a values-based movement that is working for an America where everyone counts.
Jones has founded and led numerous social enterprises engaged in social and environmental justice, including The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and The Dream Corps.
Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012). The second book chronicles his journey as an environmental and human rights activist to becoming a White House policy advisor.
He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act. Signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, the Green Jobs Act was the first piece of federal legislation to codify the term “green jobs.” During the Obama Administration, the legislation has resulted in $500 million in national funding for green jobs training.
In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama. In this role, Jones helped to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw the multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors.
Jones has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including: the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root's 2014 "The Root 100." In 2017, Van Jones signed a management deal with Roc Nation, becoming the first political commentator & activist in their family. Jones lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife & two children.
Van Jones: Well, at times we’ll say you know, the green economy or green jobs people are thinking about you know, Buck Rogers or you know, George Jetson, you know, this kind of Sci-Fi job or something. You know, the main tool and a lot of green job is a cocked gun, you know retrofitting buildings, so that they don’t leak so much energy blowing in insulation, wrapping water heaters so they don’t leak so much energy, double painting glass. Those are good, would have been blue-collar jobs in the last century we call them green-collar jobs now because they’ve been upgraded to better respect the environment, installing solid panels, manufacturing wind turbines, fabricating solid panels, you know, planting community gardens, all of these things that actually are skilled labor, you know, not just only this PhDs but the [PhDo’s] the people who are doing the hard work of getting this economy retrofit and re-powering America, those are green-collar jobs. If we are going to beat global warming, we’re going to have to have literally millions of people deployed across the country to reboot, re-power, retrofit America so that we can have this clean energy revolution be successful.
Question: How important is the green movement today?
Van Jones: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that we’ve seen is that, you know, unregulated greed at the top has guided us into this awful situation, but unleashing green solutions at the bottom can get us out. You know, a commitment to a green recovery were we use the need to invest in infrastructure, greening infrastructure. Obviously, we got [levies] falling down and bridges falling down, we have to deal with that, but we also have, you know, tremendous problems with our aging water infrastructure, our aging energy infrastructure. The process of rebuilding all that and making it now state of the art, keep people to work, bring down energy prices and jumpstart the economy. We need a big green stimulus package. We just bailed out the banks, we need to bail out the people in the planet and that can be done. I’m a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress put out a report called “Green Recovery” showed how a sum of money much less than the $700, $800 billion that we just set aside to bail out the banks could create 2 million jobs in the United States in the next two years, a hundred billion dollars invested could put people to work, you know, in a number of states in jobs you know, like electrician jobs, a pipe fitter jobs, jobs that we’ve heard of before, not George Jetson jobs, but we could get our economy going again. I can’t stress enough. Our construction industry is flat on its back. We’re not going to be building a lot in the next couple of years but we can be rebuilding. We can be retrofitting what we have and putting people back to work.
In order to beat global warming, we’re going to have to deploy millions of green workers across the country says Van Jones.
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