Green Collar Jobs Take Off as Traditional Energy Jobs Are Cut

A transition to renewable energy sources could mean the start of global job gains at a time when the coal an other traditional energy industries have been hemorrhaging jobs, according to the latest Vital Signs Update released by the Worldwatch Institute. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in the coal industry worldwide in the past few decades. In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production.

“Renewables are poised to tackle our energy crisis and create millions of new jobs worldwide,” said Michael Renner, Worldwatch’s senior researcher. “Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs are increasingly becoming fossils themselves, as coal mining communities and others worry about their livelihoods.”

The German government has reported that the country was home to an estimated 259,000 direct and indirect jobs in the renewables sector in 2006. Worldwatch expects this figure to reach 400,000–500,000 by 2020, and 710,000 by 2030. In the United States, the renewables sector employed close to 200,000 people directly and 246,000 indirectly in 2006. This was due mostly to policies that enourage renewable energy development on the state level, the report said.

Worldwide, approsximately 2.3 million people currently work either directly in renewables or indirectly in supplier industries. The solar thermal industry employs close to 625,000 people, the wind power industry 300,000, and the solar PV industry 170,000. More than 1 million people work in the biomass and biofuels sector. Small-scale hydropower employs 39,000 people and geothermal employs 25,000.

“Government officials now have yet another reason to put the full weight of their support behind renewables,” Renner said. “In addition to protecting our planet and phasing out an increasingly limited resource, policies that support renewable energy also support job creation.”

For more information on the Vital Signs Report from Worldwatch, click here.

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