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Which creates more jobs? Green industry or polluting industry?

This article was originally published in World Resources Institute.

The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest damage to the global workforce in generations. This also exacerbates inequality.The global unemployment rate is equivalent to 127 million Full-time job in the second quarter of 2021.Number of people working but living in poverty Increase -Obliterate five years of progress. Although in some countries, employment is returning to pre-pandemic levels, most parts of the world are still in the throes of unemployment and underemployment crisis.

At the same time, the heat waves, fires, droughts, hurricanes and floods of 2021 brought the effects of climate change to our doorstep.Newest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The report warned that if urgent action is not taken, serious shocks may occur in the future.

Fortunately, unemployment and the climate crisis can be solved at the same time.

Confronting climate-friendly and unsustainable investments

If you are a decision maker and have $1 million to invest in expanding or strengthening your energy system, would you choose clean energy or fossil fuels? Considering the impact of climate change, investing in clean energy is an obvious decision.

But what if your goal is to create as many jobs as possible? Fortunately, the answer is the same.

According to a report, the U.S. dollar against the U.S. dollar, clean energy, and other green investments usually create more jobs in the short term than unsustainable investments. New analysis Research reports from all over the world published by the World Resources Institute, the International Federation of Trade Unions and the New Climate Economy Organization.


  • On average, the employment opportunities created by investing in solar photovoltaic energy are 1.5 times the equivalent amount invested in fossil fuels.
  • The number of jobs created per dollar of ecosystem restoration is 3.7 times that of oil and gas production.
  • The number of jobs created per dollar of energy-efficiency renovation of buildings is 2.8 times that of fossil fuels.
  • The number of jobs created per dollar of public transportation is 1.4 times that of road construction.

Compared with traditional alternatives, other green investments are also strong employment opportunities, including wind energy, grid upgrades, industrial efficiency, walking and bicycle infrastructure, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The analysis is based on our review of more than a dozen studies, including a case-by-case comparison of job creation. For some investment types such as solar and wind energy, there are data points from many countries, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States. But for some other types of investment, there is only one study for each-such as walking infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure, and ecosystem restoration, of which only the US estimates.

The research results so far are promising, but more research needs to be done, especially for low-income countries and nature-based climate solutions.

Why does green investment create more jobs?

Activities such as installing solar panels, restoring degraded ecosystems, or transforming buildings to improve energy efficiency are labor-intensive and difficult to outsource. This means that they have created local employment opportunities.On the other hand, the fossil fuel industry is highly automation And capital-intensive.Urban projects, such as walking and cycling infrastructure Require Compared with road construction, there are more urban planners, engineers, and construction workers per dollar, with the latter spending a higher share of investment in materials such as asphalt and stone products.

This analysis shows that in most cases, green investment is a better job creator, but in some cases, the employment impact is mixed.

Job creation is important, but this is only part of the story. We also need to ensure that the work is of high quality.

Electric vehicles (EV) are an example.The transition from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles is expected arrive lead Take overall employment growth. This is because electric vehicle owners spend their money on electricity instead of gasoline, and the power industry is more labor-intensive than the oil industry. In addition, electric vehicle owners spend less on electricity each year than they spend on natural gas, and reinject these savings into the overall economy, which is also more labor-intensive than the oil industry.

However, despite the increase in overall employment, some jobs will still be lost. It is expected that electric vehicles will create slightly fewer jobs in the automobile manufacturing and maintenance industries, because electric vehicles are composed of fewer and simpler parts than gas-powered vehicles.Not to mention Effect Advanced production technology, digitization and artificial intelligence will greatly reduce the number of car manufacturing workers required for any type of vehicle. For this reason, a just transition of retraining and rehiring traditional auto workers will be essential.

How to improve the quality of green employment

Job creation is important, but this is only part of the story. We also need to ensure that the work is of high quality. There are challenges that need to be overcome, but with the right policies, wages, benefits, inclusiveness, and job security in the green sector can be improved.

In low- and middle-income countries, formal jobs in the green sector can provide high salaries. But they are often part of the informal economy, so their wages are low, their chances of obtaining job security are limited, and social security is scarce.

For example, in the field of off-grid renewable energy in India and Nigeria, 60-70% The work is informal.This is not a problem unique to renewable energy; in fact, in these two countries, approximately 90% All jobs in the entire economy are informal. For green jobs and all jobs, the government must help formalize the workforce and promote professional development through training, capacity building, and skills certification.

In high-income countries, green jobs can provide access to the middle class, including workers with only high school diplomas.

In the United States, the income of clean energy workers 25% more The money is more than the average worker.However, clean energy wages are still slightly lower than fossil fuel jobs, and the latter’s wages are still high-partly because Hard fight Trade union representation and negotiation. New green jobs are unlikely to have established such benefits and rights, and today’s workers have less and less power to advocate for change.

We need to avoid the bottom-line competition to reduce the cost of green technology by cutting wages, job security or working conditions. New research It is found that the impact of raising labor standards on the cost and speed of the energy transition may be much smaller than we thought, partly because workers with higher wages are more productive.

In high-income countries, green jobs can provide access to the middle class.

Countries can follow several models of how to improve the quality of green work.

2018 Spain Reach an agreement to close coal mines and invest US$280 million in affected mining areas, including green industry training, early retirement options, and environmental restoration.exist Illinois, The United States, labor representatives actively participated in the formulation of the newly passed net zero emissions climate law; the law includes strict labor standards and environmental justice provisions.

Ensuring that all people have access to green jobs is crucial, especially for groups and communities that have historically been excluded from employment opportunities. Going green is a benefit for women in the workforce.about 32% Global renewable energy jobs are held by women, which is higher than the 22% share of the oil and gas industry. However, this is still too low.

The construction and manufacturing industries that benefit from investment in energy and transportation have historically been dominated by men. Barriers to women’s participation can be addressed through training and audits to raise awareness, support networks and guidance for women in the field, gender targets and quotas, provide childcare, and policies against sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

There are some emerging best practice examples.For example, South Africa Work for water The goal of the plan is to build a workforce consisting of 60% women, 20% youth, and 5% disabled people.

Finally, green jobs are generally safer than jobs in fossil fuels and other unsustainable industries.Coal is more than 500 times more likely to cause accidents and air pollution deaths Comparison of Solar or wind energy.Farmers using sustainable technology are Less exposed Insecticides and other chemicals.

Even so, green work has its own hazards, such as solar photovoltaic workers who handle potentially toxic materials or workers who face extreme high temperatures with nature-based solutions, so strict safety measures and safety training are still required.

Climate-friendly investment is a win-win for the environment and the economy

Climate-friendly investment should be a core part of the coronavirus recovery stimulus plan and long-term economic strategy. They are absolutely necessary to achieve climate goals, and as this analysis shows, they are often effective job creators compared to unsustainable alternatives.

The job opportunities created are good, which is crucial. The government should work with labor unions and employers to promote policies and practices that ensure fair wages and working conditions, and make the recruitment of excluded social groups a condition of public investment and procurement.

Most governments seem to have not received this information. In response to COVID-19, countries have invested a lot of money in green infrastructure, but more money has been spent on unsustainable and polluting infrastructure. This not only ignores the urgency of the climate crisis, but also means that countries are missing critical opportunities to create jobs for citizens who may need them more than ever.

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