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Jobs in a green economy

Sep 25, 2008

ILO’s latest publication Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World analyses the changing patterns of employment in an effort to tackle climate change. The study makes a series of recommendations towards increasing global investment to boost energy efficiency in buildings and industry worldwide.

Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World

Publisher: International Labour Organization, 2008

Early global efforts to avert dangerous climate change are already generating new jobs, and could produce millions of new employment opportunities, according to a latest study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).

The report is the first comprehensive study on the emergence of a “green economy” and its impact on the world of work. It includes new data that shows a changing pattern of employment in which green jobs are being generated in many sectors and economies around the world as a result of measures to tackle climate change and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

This has also led to changing patterns of investment flows into areas such as renewable energy and energy efficiency at the household and industrial level. Within current policy frameworks, only a fraction of the potential benefits for jobs and development is forthcoming.

The report makes a series of policy recommendations for the international community in the lead-up to the UN Climate Convention meeting in Copenhagen in late 2009.

A main point of interest will be improved access to investment for developing countries, and boosting energy efficiency in buildings and industry worldwide.

The report also calls for financial support for countries to develop productive but low-emission agriculture and to manage forests to increase carbon absorption potential and to generate green jobs in the forestry sector in the tropics.

In addition the report highlights the importance of active labour market policies, social dialogue and broad social protections to ensure a fair and just transition for workers and their communities.

Key findings

  • 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, according to a study cited in the report.
  • Sectors that will be particularly important in terms of their environmental, economic and employment impact are energy supply, in particular renewable energy, buildings and construction, transportation, basic industries, agriculture and forestry.
  • 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.
  • A worldwide transition to energy-efficient buildings would create millions of jobs, as well as “greening” existing employment for many of the estimated 111 million people already working in the construction sector.

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

This seminal report is seen as an important contribution to create the necessary awareness about the new green economy and assist in triggering the needed changes.

Source : ILO
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