Research shows the challenge of climate change also presents opportunities for new industries and employment, according to Aim Steiner, U.N. under- secretary general and executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
"Millions of new jobs are among the many silver, if not indeed gold-plated linings on the clouds of climate change," he was quoted as saying in a press release on Thursday in Bali, a resort island of Indonesia, where a two-week U.N. climate change conference was going on in a bid to set up a roadmap for negotiations on a new climate change deal before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"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."
"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 said.
He 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 the UNEP, in ground breaking partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The final report will be released early next year.
According to the report, China is the global leader in solar heating. With combined sales revenues of about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars 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.
In Europe, a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency would create about a million jobs. The same applies in emerging and developing countries.
The Indian city of Dehli is introducing new eco-friendly compressed natural gas buses that will create an additional 18,000 new jobs.
In the U.N. alone, the environmental industry in 2005 generated more than 5.3 million jobs -- 10 times the number in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.
The ethanol program in Brazil has created half a million jobs and its bio-diesel program 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, according to research of the report.
(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2007)