Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Center for Labor Research and Education


Scroll to top


Green Economy Program

Green Jobs Rally
Photo by Susan Sachen

  • The Labor Center Green Economy Program conducts research on issues of job creation, quality, access, and training in the emergent green economy. In addition, we provide research and technical assistance to state agencies, labor, and other stakeholders who are engaged in developing and implementing policy related to energy and climate change in California and nationally.

  • Carol Zabin, Chair
    Phone: (510) 642-9176

    Robert Collier, Policy Analyst
    Phone: (510) 642-5067

  • Solarcoaster: The Promise and Pitfalls of Rooftop Solar Jobs
    Capital & Main | April 13, 2017

    UC Berkeley study: State climate programs injected $13 billion into Valley’s economy
    Fresno Bee | January 21, 2017

    State climate policies are boosting San Joaquin Valley’s economy
    Op-ed by F. Noel Perry, Ethan Elkind, and Betony Jones
    Sacramento Bee | January 20, 2017

    1st Comprehensive Cost/Benefit Study of Climate Policies in San Joaquin Valley Finds Over $13 Billion in Economic Benefits, Mostly in Renewable Energy
    Yahoo Finance | January 19, 2017

    San Joaquin Valley Reaping Economic Benefits Of Climate Policies
    Capital Public Radio | January 19, 2017

    Study shows climate policies benefit Valley
    Turlock Journal | January 19, 2017

    Report: Central Valley could lead state, nation to renewable energy future
    Central Valley Business Times | January 18, 2017

    Have climate policies helped San Joaquin Valley? New report says yes
    Los Angeles Times | January 18, 2017

    Study: California solar farms threaten desert species
    Desert Sun | October 20, 2015

    Unions for green jobs: Why organized labor is getting behind offshore wind
    Christian Science Monitor | October 15, 2016

    Realizing the Promise of Solar for South Los Angeles
    Capital & Main | September 27, 2015

    Guest Essay: We all should get on board Clean Power Plan
    Glens Falls Post-Star | September 13, 2015

    Renewable energy requirement creates jobs, Berkeley study says
    Los Angeles Times | August 28, 2015

    Rooftop solar battle brewing in Sacramento
    Desert Sun | July 10, 2015

    UC Berkeley to Oversee Statewide Green Job Training Initiative
    The Daily Californian | June 23, 2013

    UC Berkeley to Guide Job-Training Reboot for Green Economy
    UC Berkeley NewsCenter | June 17, 2013

    UC Berkeley to help overhaul green job training for public utilities
    San Francisco Business Times | June 17, 2013

    Vial Center selected as lead consultant on WE&T for the California Investor-Owned Utilities’ energy efficiency programs.
    Don Vial Center | June 2013

    Going Green and Growing Jobs, the Right Way
    The Berkeley Blog | March 26, 2013

  • In response to growing concern about climate change and its potential effects, a “green” economic sector has emerged to provide consumers with products and services ranging from solar panels to plug-in hybrid cars to environmentally certified building materials. States have adopted comprehensive climate and energy policies, the United States EPA is requiring greenhouse gas emission reductions through the Clean Power Plan, and an international agreement was reached in Paris in 2015 to pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. At the local level, cities and counties are developing initiatives to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing climatic conditions.

    Employers, economic development planners, workforce professionals, educators, and unions want to know what these new policies and the new green economy will mean for them. For the most part, they are not yet at the table of planning and policy making on climate change and environmental legislation that will have a real impact on the labor market. Most want to be a part of the conversation, but to do so they need good research, education and technical assistance in order to be effective advocates for quality jobs, better training, and improved environmental standards.

    The opportunities are many: an occasion to train a new generation of engineers and technical workers in green technologies; an opportunity for labor, business, and workforce development and economic planners to help develop a new array of well-paying jobs with good benefits; and an opening at the ground level to make quality jobs accessible to low-income communities.

    The challenges are also clear. Green technologies will not flourish without a well-trained technical and supporting labor force. Unions will resist green policies if it means trading in old jobs that pay well for new jobs of lesser quality. Green entrepreneurs will be afraid of negotiating away their flexibility and profit margins if wage and regulatory demands are too great. Local community groups will not support “brownfields” redevelopment if they don’t see jobs made available to their residents. There is potential for a “win-win-win” strategy in this growing facet of California’s economy, but it will require careful strategies, educational efforts, and coalitions.

    Our Role

    The University of California has long offered the intellectual leadership needed to steer business, government and society towards new vistas. Its origin as a land grant university has resulted in a long history of dissemination of applied research and know-how for the public good. UC Berkeley is out in front with major initiatives related to climate change, triggered by concerns over global warming, including such research centers as the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, Energy Biosciences Institute, the Green Building Center, the California Climate Change Center, and the Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability (CERES). The UC-wide Energy Institute is also run out of the Haas Business School on campus.

    The Green Economy Program at UC Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) responds to the University's need to take a leading position with respect to the economic and employment changes that will accompany systemic adjustment to climate change. The Labor Center is housed at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a major research arm of the University.

    The activities of the Labor Center Green Economy Program include the following:

    • Undertake research on the emerging green economy and climate change policy as these relate to the labor market. Develop a clearinghouse for the best national and international research findings related to climate change induced economic shifts and their employment effects.
    • Link research and dissemination on new green technologies to the workforce and education needs associated with these new technologies.
    • Provide educational forums and training sessions for labor unions, employers, nonprofits and government agencies who wish to engage the green economy and its labor market implications.
    • Provide technical assistance to those engaged in developing policy related to green economy employment. Showcase best practices that have been developed for green jobs training programs, green certification programs and green economic development programs.
    • Convene labor unions, employers, community groups, and educational institutions in order to foster workforce development partnerships to retrain workers and improve the quality of jobs in the green economy.
    • Develop joint programs and projects with other climate and economy-related research centers on the Berkeley campus, blending our expertise on employment with theirs.