* Clinton's summit targets job creation
* Clinton urges banks, pensions to invest "green"
(Refiles to drop extraneous bullet point)
By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK, Sept 20 Investments in energy-saving
building retrofits and clean-energy projects can create
hundreds of thousands of jobs and bolster the U.S. economy,
former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday.
More than 1,200 people, including more than 50 heads of
state such as U.S. President Barack Obama, business leaders,
humanitarians and celebrities were due to attend the seventh
annual Clinton Global Initiative that began on Tuesday.
With the United States possibly on the brink of another
recession and the unemployment rate at more than 9 percent,
Clinton trumpeted a pledge by the AFL-CIO labor federation and
the American Federation of Teachers to reinvest $10 billion
over the next five years in energy-efficient infrastructure.
"This is a huge deal. This could be done not just in the
United States but in every European country, in every wealthy
Asian country. This system will work and you get guaranteed
savings," Clinton told attendees during the opening session.
The unions have worked with state treasurers and pension
funds associated with labor to make the green investments. For
example, two of the largest U.S. public pension funds,
California's CalPERS and CalSTERS, have allocated over $1.1
billion to the effort.
Aside from clean-energy projects such as wind and solar
power, Clinton said pension funds and banks should invest in
giving green make-overs to buildings, from hospitals and
schools to government buildings. The cost of retrofitting would
be paid back by the monthly savings in energy costs, he said.
In cities such as London and New York, buildings are
responsible for nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists say heat-trapping gases cause global warming, which
could cause deadly floods, droughts and heat waves.
"This (commitment) goes right at the biggest unemployment
problem we have in the United States, right at the
climate-change challenge and puts more disposable income into
the hands of people who will almost certainly spend it,"
John Podesta, president of the Center for American
Progress, which is helping implement the commitment by the
labor and teachers' unions, said that for every $1 billion
spent on infrastructure, about 18,000 jobs were created.
AMERICAN BANKS' SURPLUS CASH
Clinton said if American banks started investing some $2
trillion in cash they were sitting on, "we would have a million
jobs in no time."
"This is not rocket science," said Clinton, who began his
philanthropic initiative out of his frustration while president
between 1993 and 2001 at attending conferences that were more
talk than action.
In an effort to jump-start the stalled U.S. economy, Obama
introduced a $447 billion plan to create jobs earlier this
month. Job growth is crucial to Obama's re-election hopes next
year because he is being criticized for the stubbornly high
Slovenian President Danilo Turk said lessons could be
learned from Germany's investments.
"We have to follow Germany's example with an understanding
that the results will not come overnight, but that we have to
find the appropriate public funds for investment in
transformative technologies now," Turk said.
Germany now gets 20 percent of its power from renewable
sources such as wind and solar, and is on track for 35 percent
by 2020. It has created 250,000 jobs in renewable energy in
just a few years, Jeremy Rifkin, an adviser to German
Chancellor Angela Merkel told Reuters on Monday. [ID:n
To attend Clinton's summit, commitments must be made. If
pledges are not kept, attendees cannot return.
Since its inception, the Clinton Global Initiative has
yielded more than 2,000 pledges valued at more than $63
billion, which have improved the lives of more than 300 million
people in 180 countries, organizers say.
(Editing by Mark Egan and Peter Cooney)