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Emerging "green economy" could create millions of jobs

11/29/2008 1920 views

Efforts to tackle climate change could create millions of new "green jobs" over the next few decades. That\'s according to "Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, a report put together by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Office, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Organization of Employers. The global market for environmental products and services is projected to double from $1,370 billion per year to $2,740 billion by 2020. Half of this market is in energy efficency, with the remainder in sustainable transport, water supply, sanitation and waste management. In Germany, for example, environmental technology is likely to form 16% of industrial output by 2030, up four times from its current figure. The renewable energy, buildings and construction, transportation, basic industries, agriculture and forestry sectors are likely to have the greatest environmental, economic and employment impact. The report stresses it\'s important that the jobs created avoid low pay, exposure to hazardous materials and insecure employment contracts, factors that are of particular concern in the agriculture and recycling sectors. "A sustainable economy can no longer externalize environmental and social costs," says the report. "The price society pays for the consequences of pollution or ill health for example, must be reflected in the prices paid in the marketplace. Green jobs therefore need to be decent work." The renewable energy sector has employed 2.3 million people in recent years. The projected investments of $630 billion in the sector by 2030 would create at least 20 million additional jobs. What\'s more, by 2030, wind energy may employ 2.1 million and solar power may employ 6.3 million. In the US, clean technologies are the third largest sector for venture capital after information and biotech, while green venture capital in China has more than doubled to 19% of total investment in recent years. On the agricultural side, biomass for energy and related industries could employ 12 million. For example, in Venezuela using 10% ethanol in fuels might provide one million jobs in the sugar cane industry by 2012. A transition to energy-efficient buildings would create millions of jobs, as well as "greening" existing employment for many of the roughly 111 million people already working in construction. And improving energy efficiency in existing buildings could generate an additional 2-3.5 million green jobs in Europe and the US alone. The report Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World is the first comprehensive and authoritative report which provides an overview of the complexity and policy relevance of global environmental challenges climate change and employment.

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