Clean energy technology (is) an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people. – Barrack Obama
Green Jobs have been defined as those jobs which “reduce the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors, ultimately to levels which are sustainable. They contribute to reducing the need for energy and raw material, to avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, to minimizing waste and pollution, and to restoring ecosystem services like clean water, flood protection and biodiversity.”
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) considers this definition should be complemented with stronger social standards. A Green Job should be one which reduces environmental impacts of enterprises and economic sectors, while providing decent working and living conditions to all those involved in production and ensuring workers’ and labour rights are respected.
An important part of the workforce depends directly on the environment (workers in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, sectors such as tourism); industrial activities depend on raw materials for producing goods, service sector enterprises make also use of energy, infrastructure and materials which have an impact on the environment. Today, the natural resource base of our planet is in danger. This should be of concern of all if we want future generations to live in a healthy and fairer planet. But, in addition, if we want to ensure all economic sectors’ viability and sustainability, we need to transform them, and, while maintaining traditional union demands for decent work, act now to drive the reduction of each sector’s environmental impacts.
Green & Decent Jobs can be part of the solution for the challenges we are facing:
- They can contribute to the fight against climate change and the deterioration of natural resources.
- The recovery of the economic crisis, by providing a coherent pathway to create new employment opportunities and developing new development pathways.
- Social development and the provision of decent work for all, including for more than 1.3 billion working families above the poverty line, 190 million unemployed, 5.3 billion people without access to any social security coverage or the 1 billion slum dwellers lacking access to clean water and sanitation.
- Projected investment in renewable energy could translate to some 20 million jobs in the sector — making it a larger employer than today’s fossil fuel industry. [UNEP]
- Over 900,000 people are now employed in the UK in low pollution business and jobs in these sectors have been growing strongly despite the UK’s economic downturn. [Climate Institute]
- The wind sector employed 550,000 people worldwide in 2009. In the year 2012, the wind industry is expected for the first time to offer one million jobs. [WWEA]
- Some four million direct green jobs based on improving energy efficiency, particularly in building and construction already exist across the economy in the United States and in certain European countries. [UNEP]
- Over the coming decade raising the EU’s climate target from 20% to 30% can create up to 6 million jobs Europe wide. [UNEP]
- Investments in improved energy efficiency in buildings could generate an additional 2-3.5 million jobs in Europe and the United States alone. [International Labor Organization]
- Solar energy alone employed 93,502 American jobs in 2010 and could grow 25,000-50,000 in
2011, economy willing, and potentially up to 4 million jobs by 2030. [IdeaLab]
- “Green investment will yield two million jobs in two years” –Green for All
- “The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people- while honoring the Earth.” –Van Jones
- “There are jobs, money and survival in renewable energy. Our only safe future is sun power.” -Dave Hampton
- “There is job growth in renewables, there is job growth in energy efficiency and there is job growth in developing innovative industries and technologies to successfully meet the challenge of climate change.” –Peter Garrett
Creative Commons: Oregon Department of Transportation
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About the AuthorKarl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.
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