A report jointly released by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) concludes that if countries, developed or developing alike, commit to investing 1.5 per cent of GDP per year into renewable energy and energy efficiency projects then these efforts would generate significant economic growth and new job opportunities. The latter is sort of a no brainer – of course, new jobs will be generated, but what about those lost? Well, according to the report, more job opportunities could be created by investing clean energy sources than fossil fuels.
More green jobs
If you have friends who work in oil & gas, then you’ve likely already been met with a myriad of arguments which are demonstratively false: “renewable energy is expensive”, “renewable energy is inefficient” or “oil makes the economy tick”. The latter assumption is based more on a clinging belief, than on facts. The truth is, each time a better technology surfaced throughout history, the dominant industry that’s threatened by the new wave can only respond with criticism. First they laugh it off, then they get scared, (then some sabotage), until ultimately they concede to defeat at the hand of progress. Think of telephone vs telegraph, or most recently print media vs new media. It’s just a matter of time. Granted, as far as jobs are concerned, things aren’t that clear. It’s natural that when an industry declines or effectively dies, then those jobs are lost, and their place in the labor market is replaced by the new industry. But is there a net added value on the job market? In the case of green tech vs fossil fuel industry, yes. At least, according to Yvo de Boer, director-general of GGGI and former head of the UN’s climate change secretariat.
“Significant progress has already been made in overcoming the hitherto conventional wisdom that taking steps to cut GHGs was incompatible with economic growth,” he said. “This report moves the debate another positive step forward by showing that employment and development result from sustainable, green growth.”
The report looked at the impact investing 1.5% GDP in renewable energy and other “green” tech would have on the labor force in five countries. In the case of Brazil and South Africa, two emerging economic powers, for each $1 million invested 16.2 and 33.1 jobs would be created respectively. Similar results – more jobs in clean tech than in fossil – were found for Germany, Indonesia, and South Korea. Li Yong, director general of UNIDO, believes the report highlights the untapped potential these countries, and more, are currently losing out.
“The results of the five countries presented in this report show clearly that green growth investments are not only viable or beneficial for the most highly industrialised countries,” he said. “On the contrary, all countries, be they developed or developing, can derive significant benefits from investments in clean and renewable energy.”
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.