Study predicts growth of “green” jobs

September 24, 2008
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, NEW YORK, September 24 – A new study on the impact of an emerging global “green economy” says efforts to tackle climate change could result in the creation of millions of new “green jobs” in the coming decades.

The report entitled ‘Green Jobs: Towards Decent work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World’, says changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could create millions more in both developed and developing countries.

However, the report also finds that the process of climate change, already underway, will continue to have negative effects on workers and their families, especially those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and tourism. Action to tackle climate change as well as to cope with its effects is therefore urgent and should be designed to generate decent jobs.

Though the report is generally optimistic about the creation of new jobs to address climate change, it also warns that many of these new jobs can be “dirty, dangerous and difficult”. Sectors of concern, especially in developing economies, include agriculture and recycling where all too often low pay, insecure employment contracts and exposure to health hazardous materials needs to change fast.

What’s more, it says too few green jobs are being created for the most vulnerable: the 1.3 billion working poor (43 percent of the global workforce) in the world with earnings too low to lift them and their dependants above the poverty threshold of $2 per person, per day, or for the estimated 500 million youth who will be seeking work over the next 10 years.

The report says that climate change itself, adaptation to it and efforts to arrest it by reducing emissions have far-reaching implications for economic and social development, for production and consumption patterns and thus for employment, incomes and poverty reduction.
 
Clean technologies are already the third largest sector for venture capital after information and biotechnology in the United States, while green venture capital in China more than doubled to 19 percent of total investment in recent years.

According to the report, 2.3 million people have in recent years found new jobs in the renewable energy sector alone, and the potential for job growth in the sector is huge. Employment in alternative energies may rise to 2.1 million in wind and 6.3 million in solar power by 2030.

“Renewable energy generates more jobs than employment in fossil fuels. Projected investments of $630 billion by 2030 would translate into at least 20 million additional jobs in the renewable energy sector,” it states.

In agriculture, 12 million could be employed in biomass for energy and related industries. “In a country like Venezuela, an ethanol blend of 10 per cent in fuels might provide one million jobs in the sugar cane sector by 2012.”

The report provides examples of massive green jobs creation, throughout the world, such as: 600,000 people in China who are already employed in solar thermal making and installing products such as solar water heaters; in Nigeria, a bio fuels industry based on cassava and sugar cane crops might sustain an industry employing 200,000 people; India could generate 900,000 jobs by 2025 in biomass gasification of which 300,000 would be in the manufacturing of stoves and 600,000 in areas such as processing into briquettes and pellets and the fuel supply chain; and in South Africa, 25,000 previously unemployed people are now employed in conservation as part of the ‘Working for Water’ initiative.

The study was funded and commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) under a joint Green Jobs Initiative with the International Labour Office (ILO) and other workers’ organisations.

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