‘Tens of millions’ of environmental jobs to come – UN

Efforts around the world to tackle climate change and other environmental bugbears could lead to the creation of tens of millions of jobs, according to the United Nations.

The emerging green economy is changing patterns of employment and investment and already generating new jobs across many sectors.

While this is nothing new to those familiar with the sector what will put a smile on the faces of those already involved is the UN’s predictions of just how big the environmental industries are set to become.

According to its report Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, coming decades will see the creation of tens of millions of new environmental jobs in both the developing world and industrialised countries.

Though the report is generally optimistic about the creation of new jobs to address climate change, it also warns that many of these new jobs can be “dirty, dangerous and difficult”.

Sectors of concern, especially in poorer countries, include agriculture and recycling where all too often workers are faced with low pay, insecure employment contracts and exposure to hazardous materials.

What’s more, it says too few green jobs are being created for the most vulnerable.

The green economy can expect to see more investment as well as more jobs, the report continues, predicting a doubling in the global market for environmental products and services by 2020.

It also looks at areas where there is already massive employment in environmental practices as well as highlighting the expected growth areas.

Among these are:

  • 600,000 people in China who are already employed in solar thermal making and installing products such as solar water heaters;
  • In Nigeria, a bio fuels industry based on cassava and sugar cane crops might sustain an industry employing 200,000 people;
  • India could generate 900,000 jobs by 2025 in biomass gasification of which 300,000 would be in the manufacturing of stoves and 600,000 in areas such as processing into briquettes and pellets and the fuel supply chain;
  • In South Africa, 25,000 previously unemployed people are now employed in conservation as part of the Working for Water initiative.
  • David Gibbs

    Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie