A new study says tackling climate change could create millions of new jobs in both developed and developing countries. At the same time, the report warns there will be job losses in certain sectors as countries adjust to the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The International Labor Organization, the U.N. Environment Program and the International Organization of Employers produced the study. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.
This is the first comprehensive study on the emergence of a so-called green economy. The new report finds efforts to reduce climate change are underway and are generating new jobs in many sectors and economies.
Policy Director at the International Labor Organization, Stephen Pursey, says tackling climate change will offer many job opportunities in both developed and developing countries. But, he notes job losses will result from the greening economy.
He tells VOA the urgent need to stop climate change from occurring means that all jobs eventually will have to be part of the green economy.
"Now, some jobs will probably be phased out, particularly in areas like fossil fuels and new jobs will be created in areas like solar, building insulation, infrastructure investment," said Pursey. "Overall, the evidence we have so far is that there are probably more job opportunities from shifting to sustainable development patterns than there will be job losses."
"But, of course, they will not be the same people and the same places. So, we have big issues of transition to make sure that people who are losing jobs have opportunities to get back into the green economy," he added.
Authors of the report are generally optimistic about the creation of new jobs. But, they warn many can be dirty, dangerous and difficult, especially in developing countries. These include jobs in agriculture and recycling which often are low paid, insecure and could involve health hazards.
Pursey says environmental policy makers must think of the employment consequences when considering ways to contain and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Decent work is something that is really important for every family tomorrow," he said. "But, now it is increasingly important that we address climate change urgently. We cannot afford to put it off, even for decent work. So, we have to get the two going together and what the report is showing is that this is possible. You can have decent work, you can improve working conditions and create better opportunities and tackle the environmental challenges."
The report says the global market for environmental products and services is projected to double to more than $2.7 billion a year by 2020. And, half of this market, it says, is in energy efficiency and the balance in sustainable transport, water supply, sanitation and waste management.
It notes 2.3 million people have found new jobs in the renewable energy sector alone in recent years and by 2030, nearly 8.5 million people will be working in wind and solar power.
It says renewable energy now generates more jobs than employment in fossil fuels.
The report cites examples of massive green jobs that already have been created in countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa. It adds, in Nigeria, a biofuels industry based on cassava and sugar cane crops might provide jobs for 200,000 people.