Green Economy Forum
Baltimore , Maryland
July 24, 2010
This is exciting. I’m really excited to be here. The mission here is to create and retain green jobs, to responsibly utilize scarce and finite natural resources, to protect, restore, preserve and enhance our environment, and to support the use of clean and efficient energy. That has been what the Green Jobs Industry Task Force has been working on. And I’m really excited, I’m so impressed with your work.
One of the big challenges we have is articulating where we’re going and a vocabulary that all of us as citizens, not just as industry specialists, not just as people in government who deal with this day in and day out, but in ways that every citizen can understand. And these are new challenges and they require new vocabulary and a clear way to articulate a way forward.
I’ll bet you, just as the biotechnology vision and the cyber vision before it, you’re going to see a lot of other states following Maryland’s lead, as indeed, we have always led, especially in times of adversity. And we sure have our fair share of it out there today.
But this is about reconsidering, reconstructing, redesigning the relationship between the technologies of how we have always lived and the science of how our natural world can long survive. And it’s going to require not only a greater and wider and more broadly accepted understanding of the science, but it’s also going to require retooling and re-imagining and reinventing of the technologies and actually distributing them.
I want to thank all of you for joining us and embracing the job-creating, planet-saving potential of Maryland’s green economy.
I firmly believe that there is no place in our State more powerful than a family’s home and there is nothing more important for protecting that home than a job,… which gives a tremendous amount of urgency to our mission of creating jobs, saving jobs, retaining jobs, and improving the conditions that allow businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to create and save jobs.
Since January -- I have some good news for you -- we have had not one, not two, but three months in a row of positive job creation as a State. That’s the first time that’s happened since the beginning of 2006. (Applause.)
And it is, in part, thanks to the innovative business owners and entrepreneurs who are here and also, in part, thanks to -- I’d like to think -- better policies and the urgency of the challenges before us.
The Chamber of Commerce recently rated Maryland #2 in the nation for entrepreneurship and innovation.
As our world grows smaller and more interconnected, we have some tremendous opportunities for moving forward with greater job creation and prosperity and advancing innovation –leveraging our competitive advantages in the life sciences, biotech, high-tech, green-tech, clean-tech, information technology and cyber security,… realizing that they all very inter-connected.
For about 400 years, Western thought has focused on reducing things to their smallest denominator. I think increasingly we are embracing the notion that we have to have a more balanced understanding of the whole. And within that drive for greater balance is a tremendous need for innovation and creation and new opportunities.
A great example of that here in Maryland is our competition for – and our winning of – GM’s decision to build the next electric drive motor here in Maryland, in White Marsh. It could have gone to a lot of other places, but they are bringing it here because of the quality of our workforce, our proximity to places of research, creation, innovation and discovery. And it’s going to create 800 jobs right here in Maryland.
It’s a win for our planet as well. And one of the great ironies of these times is that the immensity of the challenges we face, all the big globals, right? Global climate change, global sea level rise, global terror, global recession, global this, global that all of those things are also the things that are driving innovation and driving progress.
Arnold Toynbee said that people, individuals, societies progress in response to adversity. And if it’s too great, then the adversity will overwhelm it and you’ll have a desert situation and civilization will either die or move away. If it’s too little, civilization atrophies and dies away in a different sort of lazy way.
But if you have the right amount of adversity, then in that innovation, creativity, and the “rational application of human effort to human problems” drives progress. So, by God, I think we’re in for a lot of progress now, don’t you?
Creating and Saving Green Jobs
Between 1998 and 2007, job growth in our nation’s emerging green economy has grown two and-a-half times faster than jobs overall. Two and-a-half times faster than jobs overall.
Here in Maryland, we’ve set the big goal for our State of creating, saving, and placing our fellow Marylanders in 100,000 green jobs by 2015. And, at present, our State is home to an estimated 75,000 green jobs -- we could debate all day over definitions, but our best, most subjective view of this is 75,000 green jobs ranging from consulting and scientific services to construction and waste management.
I want to thank the members of the Task Force for your hard work. Our mission is to help our businesses, large and small, to adopt green technologies and green practices while also working to grow our existing companies, our existing workforces and recruiting new green businesses to Maryland.
That’s it. That’s who we are. That’s what we need to do in a Maryland that’s smart, green and growing.
And simultaneously we’re also working to advance green technology and innovation within our State by creating tax incentives and grant initiatives to help families and businesses go green; passing landmark clean cars legislation; leading the charge for America’s first cap and trade auction of greenhouse gas emissions; setting big goals for reducing energy consumption and increasing our renewable energy portfolio; and also for reducing our carbon footprint, both as a State and as a corporation. That publicly held corporation known as the State Government of Maryland.
The other important piece of the green jobs puzzle, though, is a very valuable asset that you and I, together, have not only protected, but improved, even during these tough times,… and that is the quality of our system of education. Not only K-12 education where for the first time ever, and in the midst of a recession, we’ve been named by Education Week magazine as the number one public school system in America.
But also -- also importantly -- the affordability of college, by being the only state in the country to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase in college tuition.
And, get this, we have increased by 65 percent in a four year period of time the number of our children in our public high schools who are taking AP courses in science, technology, engineering and math. There is no other state in America that is doing all of these things in these tough times.
It goes to the quality of our workforce, the “Skills2Compete” and our ability to create and innovate.
So I’m looking forward to this discussion. It’s been said that “the environment is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.” And I think that’s true of this mission.
And I thank you all so very much for your attendance, your hard work and for the jobs you are creating as promised, and are able to create in the years ahead for our people.
Thanks a lot. (Applause.)