New Reports Note the Potential for Millions of Green Jobs
October 15, 2008
Global efforts to tackle climate change could result in millions of "green" jobs over the coming decades, according to a recent study. The study, prepared by the Worldwatch Institute with funding from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), found that the global market for environmental products and services is projected to double from $1.37 trillion per year at present to $2.74 trillion by 2020, with half of that market in energy efficiency. It also notes that the energy supply sectors will be particularly important in terms of their environmental, economic, and employment impacts, particularly the renewable energy industry and those related to buildings, transportation, industry, agriculture, and forestry. The report notes that 2.3 million people have found renewable energy jobs in recent years, and projected investments of $630 billion by 2030 would translate into at least 20 million additional jobs. The UNEP commissioned the report under the Green Jobs Initiative, which involves the International Labour Office, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the International Organization of Employers. See the press release and report on the UNEP Web site.
Looking closer to home, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report in early October that finds the U.S. economy currently generates more then 750,000 green jobs, while over the next 30 years, an emphasis on clean energy could cause that number to grow five-fold, to more than 4.2 million jobs. Engineering, legal, research, and consulting jobs currently dominate the green jobs in the United States and could grow by 1.4 million by 2038, while renewable electricity production will create 1.23 million jobs, alternative transportation fuels will add 1.5 million jobs, and building retrofits will create another 81,000 jobs. The report notes that most of today's jobs are in metropolitan areas, led by New York City; Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; and Los Angeles, California, and it lists current and projected green jobs by metropolitan area. See the press release (PDF 175 KB), key findings (PDF 59 KB), and the full report (PDF 788 KB). Download Adobe Reader.
One concern noted in the UNEP report is that too few green jobs are being created for the most vulnerable people, including the estimated 500 million youth who will be seeking work over the next 10 years. But Santa Fe, New Mexico, has launched a pilot "Green Collar Jobs Training Program" to address that very issue. Six at-risk youth spent the summer working with local businesses to learn green skills such as retrofitting low-income housing, installing solar hot water heating systems, and applying innovative green building techniques. The successful program coupled on-the-job training with academic skill building and job counseling, and could serve as a model for similar programs in other cities. The City of Santa Fe teamed with the Santa Fe Business Alliance and ¡YouthWorks!, a non-profit organization, to create the pilot program. See the city's press release and the ¡YouthWorks! Web site.