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From: UNEP
Published December 6, 2007 09:09 AM

Bali/Nairobi, 6 December 2007 - As representatives from over 180 countries gather in Bali to map a post 2012 agreement, new research shows the challenge of climate change also presents opportunities for new industries and employment.

"Millions of new jobs are among the many silver, if not indeed gold-plated linings on the cloud of climate change," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"New research reveals that these jobs are not for just the middle classes ? the so-called 'green collar' jobs - but also for workers in construction, sustainable forestry and agriculture to engineering and transportation," he said.

"Talk of environmental sustainability and climate change often emphasizes the costs, but downplays the significant employment opportunities from the transition to a global economy that is not only resource efficient and without the huge emissions of greenhouse gases, but one that also restores environmental and social values," Steiner continued.

Mr Steiner was referring to the preliminary draft report, Green Jobs: Can the Transition to Environmental Sustainability Spur New Kinds and Higher Levels of Employment?, that was commissioned by UNEP, in groundbreaking partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The final report will be released early next year, but some of the research covered includes:

  • In the US alone, the environmental industry in 2005 generated more than 5.3 million jobs - ten times the number in the US pharmaceutical industry.
  • The renewable energy programmes in Germany and Spain are merely ten years old but have already created several hundred thousand jobs.
  • The Indian city of Delhi is introducing new eco-friendly compressed natural gas buses that will create an additional 18,000 new jobs. - The ethanol programme in Brazil has created half a million jobs and its bio-diesel programme is specifically designed to benefit hundreds of thousands of mostly poor smallholder farmers.
  • By the year 2020, Germany will have more jobs in the field of environmental technologies than in its entire automotive industry.
  • In Europe, a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency would create about a million jobs. The same applies in emerging and developing countries.
  • In solar heating, China is the global leader. With combined sales revenues of about $2.5 billion in 2005, more than 1,000 Chinese manufacturers employed more than 150,000 people. Future estimates of installed capacity mean employment could grow substantially in this area.