Clean energy will create more jobs than fossil fuel, says UN report

Report counters claims that cutting emissions is incompatible with growth


Naturally, a major concern that many people feel about decarbonising the energy industry is that it will result in job losses, at a time when global recovery is still faltering.

But new research by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) argues that a commitment of 1.5 per cent of GDP per year to renewable energy would not only be able to maintain economic growth at a healthy rate, it would create more jobs than maintaining the fossil fuel industry.

The 1.5 percent commitment  is necessary to  meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s targets for carbon emissions: a 50 per cent reduction by 2030, and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.

The report explores the impact of clean energy investment on emerging and current economic powers. It finds that for every $1 million spent, clean energy investments generate, on average, about 37 jobs in Brazil, 10 jobs in Germany, 100 jobs in Indonesia, 70 jobs in South Africa, and 15 jobs in South Korea.

Crucially, the report states that:

“New investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy will generate more jobs for a given amount of spending than maintaining or expanding each country’s existing fossil fuel sectors.”

It finds that in Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa, the net employment gains for clean energy investments will be ‘substantial’; although they are more modest in Germany and South Korea, building a clean energy economy will in all cases be a net positive source of job creation.

Interestingly, the report also raises the issue of gender imbalance. It finds that employment in clean energy areas is currently heavily male dominated in all five countries studied, due to the role played by manufacturing and construction.

It suggests that advancing major clean energy initiatives in these countries, as well as elsewhere, could be a chance to open up job opportunities for women in traditionally male strongholds.

Read the full UNIDO report here.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.