Millions of Green Jobs Predicted

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 new 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 but not exclusively 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.

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.

The report calls for "just transitions" for those affected by transformation to a green economy and for those who must also adapt to climate change with access to alternative economic and employment opportunities for enterprises and workers.

Among other key findings in the report:

  • The global market for environmental products and services is projected to double from US$1,370 billion per year at present to US$2,740 billion by 2020.

  • Half of this market is in energy efficiency and the balance in sustainable transport, water supply, sanitation and waste management.

  • Millions of green jobs already exist in industrialized countries, emerging economies and developing countries i.e.: In energy supply - renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency - particularly in buildings and construction, transportation, basic industries and recycling, agriculture, forests.

  • 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.

  • Clean technologies are already the third largest sector for joint venture capital after information and biotechnology in the United States, while green venture capital in China more than doubled to 19 per cent of total investment in recent years.

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

  • In agriculture, 12 million people could be employed in biomass for energy and related industries.

  • A worldwide transition to energy-efficient buildings would create millions of jobs as well as "green" existing employment for many of the estimated 111 million people already working in the construction sector.

  • Investments in improved energy efficiency in buildings could generate an additional 2-3.5 million green jobs in Europe and the United States alone, with a much higher potential in developing countries.

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;

  • A bio fuels industry based on cassava and sugar cane crops might sustain an industry in Nigeria 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

  • South Africa, 25,000 previously unemployed people are now employed in conservation as part of the ‘Working for Water’ initiative.

The full report is available for download here

A Summary of Green Jobs facts and Figures is available here

For More Information: International Labour Office

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