A new report by lead authors Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier proposes a new energy investment program for the U.S., requiring public and private investment of $200 billion per year over the next 20 years, and focussing on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
“Green Growth: A U.S. Program for Controlling Climate Change and Expanding Job Opportunities” argues that the U.S. can cut its carbon pollution by 40% from 2005 levels and create a net increase of 2.7 million clean energy jobs, if policies and investment undergo “a transformational shift in how we construct, finance, and deploy our energy infrastructure”. The report provides estimates of fiscal impacts and job impacts. The authors cite four essential conditions for their scenarios, one of which is “Regional equity and transitional support for communities and workers”, described as “allocating federal government clean energy investment spending equitably among all regions of the country, targeted community-adjustment assistance, extensive worker-training programs, and adjustment-assistance programs for fossil fuel workers. The national clean energy investment program can itself provide a critical base for generating new opportunities among workers and communities that are presently dependent on the fossil fuel industries”.
The Renewables Global Status Report released by REN21 on June 4th covers recent industry and policy developments, and key growth trends in the global renewable energy industry, striking an optimistic tone with the statement that more than 22% of the world’s power production now comes from renewable sources. China, the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Germany remain the top countries for total installed renewable power capacity. REN21 reports that 6.5 million people are directly or indirectly employed in renewable energy industries worldwide. Data is provided by industry at the global level, with greater detail for some countries , including U.S. China, India, EU, but not for Canada. Most renewable jobs are concentrated in a few countries: China, Brazil, U.S., India, Bangladesh, and some EU countries; of these, 60% of China’s employment is concentrated in the solar pv industry. Regarding the employment data, the report states: “Global statistics remain incomplete, methodologies are not harmonised, and the different studies used are of uneven quality. These numbers are based on a wide range of studies, focused primarily on the years 2012–2013.”
The fourth annual Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report by private consulting company Analytica Advisors was released on March 6 in Ottawa, stating that the clean-tech industry is “coming of age”. According to the report, the industry is comprised of over 700 Canadian companies which in 2012 generated $5.8 billion in exports, spent $1 billion in research and development, and created 41,100 new jobs across Canada. Twenty percent of the workforce in the sector is 30 years old and under. The survey authors predict that, at current growth rates, “this will become a $28 billion industry by 2022, employing over 75,000”. The clean tech industry has benefited from government investment of $598 million in 246 projects through the Sustainable Technology Development Fund and the NextGen Biofuels Fund, both administered by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).
According to a new report from the Tellus Institute, California could create 110,000 jobs if it meets its 2020 goal to recycle 75% of its solid waste. From Waste to Jobs: What Achieving 75 Percent Recycling Means for California is a follow-up to a 2011 report that asserted a 75% recycling rate for the entire U.S. could generate 1.5 million new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 515 million metric tons.
Using recovered materials to create new products and packaging is more labour-intensive than incineration or sending them to the landfill. If California sticks to the 2011 AB 341 bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown, it will increase its solid waste diversion rate from half to three quarters while creating 34,000 jobs in materials collection, 26,000 jobs in materials processing, and 56,000 jobs during the manufacture of products using recycled materials. Plastics recycling is particularly significant, potentially delivering 29,000 new jobs alone. 38,600 indirect jobs could also be created in related sectors, such as equipment and services used by the recycling sector.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which commissioned the report, recommends encouraging product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs requiring packaging manufacturers to support the expansion of recycling infrastructure.
Greener Skills and Jobs, a joint publication of the the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was released at the 2nd Green Skills Forum in Paris in mid-February.
The publication consists of papers presented by policy makers, researchers, experts from international organisations and academics at the first forum in 2012. With a focus on European experience, the papers are organized into three sections: Gearing up Education for Training and Growth; Enterprise Approaches For a Workforce Fit For a Green Economy; and Integrating Skills Into Local Development Strategies For Green Job Creation.
Beyond the expected overview of the quantity and quality of green jobs in the EU countries and the arguments for the need for labour market flexibility and retraining, the 228-page document also offers detailed and specific chapters, including: “Licensing and certification to increase skills provision and utilisation amongst low-carbon small and medium-sized enterprises in the United Kingdom” (a study of construction trades and the emerging energy efficiency jobs), and “Managerial skills in the green corporation”, which used case study interviews to confirm the importance of three competencies for middle and top managers: change management leadership, collaborative openness, and eco-innovative mindset.
The overall message is that green skills will be needed “in all sectors and at all levels in the workforce as emerging economic activities create new (or renewed) occupations”.
The Green Economy Barometer, released at a U.K. conference in February, outlines the existing structures, organizations and national policies that underlie the green economy, and identifies gaps which may be impeding equitable growth. The report differentiates between green growth, which has focused on attracting investment, and green economy, which requires policy reform to create a more equitable economic system. “A green economy should start where the majority of people are, tackling poverty and helping them to develop their assets and meet their needs and aspirations. So it should actively include the informal economy, small and medium enterprises, and locally owned and run solutions – not just big business”. The paper concludes: “For the shoots of the green economy to grow, mature and replace the current economic system, we need collective action to tackle some of the ‘fault-lines’ that are fragmenting the green economy landscape. We also need urgently to connect the macro objectives of a green economy transition to societal needs and aspirations”.
Green Economy Barometer: Who is Doing What Where and Why? by the Green Economy Coalition and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is available at: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/16573IIIED.pdf
Over 200 delegates took part in the TUC’s climate change conference, Green Growth: No Turning Back, on 21 October 2013. Videos of speeches and workshops are available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/node/118958.
On October 2nd, one of Canada’s Big Five banks, the TD Bank, released a report on “green economics” in Canada. TD found that environmental considerations have already become entrenched in corporate decision-making in Canada, and that reducing environmental impact often reduces costs, drives innovation, and stimulates growth. TD’s preliminary analysis indicates a recent “decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation”, wherein the percentage of GHG emissions per 1% GDP increase has fallen, while improved air and water quality, recycling rates and protected lands have accompanied strong overall growth. The report suggests that in order to better understand and encourage these trends, Canada needs a holistic focus on the “greening of the economy” in all sectors, rather than dichotomizing “green” and “brown” economics. To this end, TD calls for the development of environmental, economic, and government policy, and corporate responsibility indicators to help measure gains across industries and at all levels.
A paper released on June 3rd by the International Centre on Trade and Sustainable Development “attempts to refocus the LCR debate around the ultimate question of whether this measure can play a role in achieving green industrial growth in general, and RE deployment and innovation in particular. ” The authors set out the arguments for and against the use of LCR’s, examine their use by China in the wind energy industry, and describe (in less detail) examples in Ontario, Quebec, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, the US, India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. A concluding section deals with the WTO role. Ultimately, the authors call for more rigorous research into the effect of local content requirement policies on the creation of jobs in the renewable energy industry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the results of the latest Green Goods and Services Survey on March 19, 2013, estimating that there were 3.4 million Green Goods and Services (GGS) jobs in the U.S. in 2011, with a growth rate of 2.6% from 2010 to 2011. The leading source of private sector green job growth from 2010 to 2011 came in the construction sector, with more than 100,000 jobs. California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio ranked highest in the number of GGS jobs.
See the 2011 survey results, supplemental tables, and the revised 2010 data archived at:http://www.bls.gov/ggs/news.htm. At the same time, the Bureau announced that one of the means by which it will meet its budget cut of more than $30 million, is to eliminate all the products associated with its “Measuring Green Jobs” program, including the surveys and the career information publications.