In December, U.S. President Biden announced the launch of the American Climate Corps to train young people in high-demand skills for jobs in the clean energy economy. As part of the Biden administration’s aim to accelerate the green transition, it plans to get the country’s youth population involved in the transition through training and awareness schemes for green energy and clean technology.
Following several delays, the Biden administration launched the American Climate Corps (ACC) programme in September, backed by federal funding from a range of climate programmes. The program aims to employ thousands of youths in the country’s clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience sectors. The ACC will be driven by partners in the departments of Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Labour and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and AmeriCorps. The White House hopes that encouraging several different departments to participate in the programme will incite action and drive the acceleration of the green transition across several sectors, as well as spur higher levels of de-centralised funding.
The first ACC cohort is expected to enrol in the summer of 2024 and, starting this January, the corps will hold several “virtual listening sessions”, aimed at engaging youths in the scheme, as well as hearing their interests and concerns. It will allow for engagement with youths across the country to understand how the programme can be implemented at the local level. Several high-level politicians will participate in the talks, including Senator Ed Markey, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi and AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith. The ACC relies heavily on youth engagement with the green transition and related sectors. So far, almost 50,000 youths from all U.S. states have signed up to learn more about the ACC.
The development of the ACC echoes former programmes under previous administrations such as the 1933 Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, which aimed to provide work in land preservation for unemployed youths during the Great Depression. However, it is the first scheme of its kind to be launched in several decades. Maggie Thomas, special assistant for climate to President Joe Biden, stated “A historic programme like this has never been done before in the lifetime of almost every single person that’s working on this programme.”
The launch of the ACC at the federal level follows in the footsteps of existing Climate Corps programmes in California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan and Washington. This will provide state-level partners in some regions of the U.S. and could encourage the launch of others. It aims to engage youths with work conserving and restoring U.S. lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy, implementing energy-efficient technologies, advancing environmental justice and other related activities. It is expected to support the development of the key skills needed for youths to develop careers in environmental justice careers, which will create meaningful long-term change in support of a green transition.
The ACC is expected to mobilise a diverse generation of over 20,000 youths, providing them with the skills to find good-paying careers in the clean energy and climate resilience economy. In addition to helping youths get onto the job ladder, the work of the ACC is expected to enhance equity and environmental justice across the country in support of the Biden administration’s Justice40 programme. The White House has called upon Tribal, State, and local governments, labour unions, non-profit organisations, the private sector, and philanthropy to partner with the ACC to provide input and training that will enhance environmental action at the local and regional level across the country.
In December, the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, Agriculture, Labour and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and AmeriCorps signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in support of the multiagency initiative. The MoU defines the core principles of the ACC, including compensating members to ensure the initiative is accessible to all, expanding workforce pathways in and led by disadvantaged communities that are marginalised, underserved, and overburdened by pollution, serving all U.S. communities by improving climate resilience, public health, energy security, and by creating economic opportunity in U.S. urban, rural, suburban, and wilderness remote areas. The MoU established the Executive Committee, which is comprised of the Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor, CEO of AmeriCorps, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Labour, Secretary of Energy, and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead the ACC at the federal level. It also created a Working Group to carry out and implement the initiative.
If successful, the programme could encourage other countries around the globe to develop similar initiatives to support the acceleration of the green transition and develop a generation of youths with the skills and experience needed to advance green energy and clean technologies.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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