President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday the creation of a new climate corps that will train workers in clean energy and climate resilience industries.
“The American Climate Corps will mobilize a new, diverse generation of more than 20,000 Americans – putting them to work conserving and restoring our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy, implementing energy efficient technologies, and advancing environmental justice, all while creating pathways to high-quality, good-paying clean energy and climate resilience jobs in the public and private sectors after they complete their paid training program,” a White House fact sheet states.
The climate corps includes an environmental justice focus and will prioritize communities that are traditionally disadvantaged, including those that have traditionally relied on fossil fuel extraction as an economic base.
People interested in joining the American Climate Corps or supporting the new program can learn more about it here.
The climate corps workers will be paid and must adhere to program standards. Experience gained while in the climate corps is intended to help people gain good paying jobs in the future and no prior experience is needed to join the corps.
Manish Bapna, the president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, praised the president’s announcement.
“In every great challenge this country has faced, it has turned to the essential strength of its people, united around a common goal. This combines national service with workforce training to rally a new generation around the need to confront the existential challenge of our time,” Bapna said in a statement. “This will build a versatile corps of workers with the skills to help conserve and restore waters and lands, make our communities more resilient, speed the shift to clean energy and advance environmental justice. That’s a sound investment in the next generation. It’s a visionary bet on the country’s future.”
The announcement came on the 30th anniversary of AmeriCorps, which is a federal agency for national service and will oversee the American Climate Corps in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Departments of Labor, Interior, Agriculture and Energy.
AmeriCorps CEO Michael Smith described the American Climate Corps as “a bold and necessary response to the concerns of young people across America.”
“From record heat and extreme flooding to devastating wildfires, climate change is an existential threat to life as we know it. AmeriCorps members have been combating these threats since our founding and we’re prepared to accelerate and strengthen our response,” he said in a statement. “We recognize that these times also present an opportunity to address climate change and build a workforce pipeline that will deliver good-paying union jobs and strengthen the clean energy economy.”
Smith further said that AmeriCorps and its partners are looking forward to meeting the needs of the future and that the American Climate Corps “marks a new era of youth-powered climate action.”
AmeriCorps service programs have already been investing in climate resilience, environmental conservation and disaster response. In Fiscal Year 2022, the organization invested more than $117 million in those areas, which represents a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Already, AmeriCorps has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to establish the new AmeriCorps NCCC Forest Corps. This partnership is a five-year agreement funded at $15 million and will involve 80 corps members deployed across national forests and grasslands starting in the summer of 2024. These corps members will work to mitigate risk of wildfires and to support reforestation efforts.
“Through this partnership, the Forest Service and AmeriCorps are investing in building the next generation of diverse conservation leaders and supporting our shared goals of service and environmental stewardship,” U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Chris French said in a press release. “These young people will help support our highest priority as an agency – confronting the wildfire crisis. We look forward to connecting with this group and providing experiences in service and conservation that will prepare them for future career success.”