According to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), millions of new jobs can be created around the world in the next two decades if green policies are put in place to switch the high-carbon economy to low-carbon one.
Such transformation can provide net gains in employment for the world economy, taking into account any job losses in high-carbon industries that fail to transform.
Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said: “The findings underline that the green economy can allow millions of people in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering improved livelihoods for this and future generations. It is a positive message of opportunity in a troubled world of challenges.”
As well as generating net new gains in the number of jobs, the switch to a green economy could help to lift millions of people out of poverty.
However, realising the full potential of green jobs depends on countries taking action to develop the green economy and bringing in policies that will foster investment.
Jobs easily identified as “green” – workers in renewable energy, for instance, or employed in forests maintainance – are not the only ones that will be touched by the shift to a more environmentally sustainable economy; the study found that at least half of the global workforce will be affected in some way by 2030.
Some of the sectors identified in the report as being the most affected by the changes include: agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, building and transport.
The study has been timed to be published ahead of World Environment Day and will inform discussions at the landmark Rio+20 environmental conference.
Last month G-8 leaders meeting at Camp David, Maryland, US, developed a “Camp David Declaration”, recognizing the need for universal access to environmentally sound, sustainable, secure and affordable sources of energy to ensure global economic growth and address climate change.