That’s the key finding of a new report published today (26 March) by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science.


The authors of the report, Dr Alex Bowen and Dr Karlygash Kuralbayeva, said: “Fully assessing the consequences of environmental policies for employment presents a considerable challenge, and at present it is not possible for policy-makers to assess conflicting claims about the quality and quantity of ‘green jobs’ that have already been created, or may be created in the future.”

Structural Change

The report says that a top priority should be agreement by policymakers across the world as to a common definition of what a ‘green job’ is that can be applied consistently.

It also says that the compilation of national green job statistics in the UK and US has “slackened” and calls for momentum to be regained as it is important policy-makers are alerted to the extent of structural change that such policies are inducing. The potential for job creation is considerable, with the right labour market policies.

The overall net impact on employment will depend on the degree of spare capacity in the economy, how the revenues from environmental taxes are spent and the level of extra investment in low-carbon infrastructure and innovation.

Expected Increase

The report particularly highlights two approaches to assessing job growth that Governments should look to improve.

One is to focus on existing jobs in environmental and resource management services, which are growing faster than employment as a whole but from a low base. This growth is only expected to increase as Climate Change mitigation measures are strengthened around the World.

A second involves counting the job change when firms in any sector adopt low-carbon technologies and switch to lower carbon inputs. This approach is helpful in assessing the structural change required by the transition to green growth.

Policymakers also need better information about how green policies affect labour markets indirectly though supply chains and through changes in overall demand, the report states.

Employment Losses

The authors also warn that headline figures about the number of ‘green jobs’ created by environmental policies are misleading by themselves, since they do not account for the number of ‘brown jobs’ in dirty industries that are lost as a result.

Bowen and Kuralbayeva concluded: “National policymakers should develop strategies for coping with employment losses in the sectors that will suffer from green growth policies, remembering that this may include sectors hit by higher real prices for currently carbon-intensive inputs (such as electricity, aluminium and cement).”

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) released a report in November 2014 that said investment in renewables and energy efficiency can create up to 10 times as many jobs per unit of electricity as investment in fossil fuels.

Read the full report here.

Lucinda Dann

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