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EWEA's Opinion

EWEA's opinion

22.06.2009

Make way for an accelerating clean, green economy

Yet another study shows that a shift away from traditional polluting jobs to those that fall into the so-called low carbon category is already occurring and will help Europe battle its way out of the current recession.

Called ‘Low carbon jobs for Europe’, the WWF publication released last week indicates that about 3.4 million jobs in Europe are related directly to renewable energies, sustainable transportation and energy efficient goods and services, compared with 2.8 million jobs in polluting industries like mining, electricity, gas, cement, iron and steel.

The study also predicts that the number of low carbon jobs will continue to increase just as assuredly as employment in extractive and climate polluting industries will keep on decreasing.

“The study clearly points at the winners and provides evidence that climate-friendly policies and technologies make a positive contribution to the economy,” says Jason Anderson, Head of European Climate and Energy Policy at WWF. “The clean economy is about to take off. If politicians continue to support industries that contribute to climate pollution, Europe will face high costs in the future, both for the economy and the environment.”

The WWF report suggests that nearly 400,000 people are employed in renewable energy activities in the EU, some 2.1 million in efficient transport, and over 900,000 in energy efficiency goods and services.

“These jobs include manufacturing, installation and maintenance of wind turbines and solar panels, and construction works to improve efficiency in existing buildings. Related indirect jobs are estimated at approximately another 5 million,” the WWF website says. “All are showing significant growth, with particular focus on wind power, solar photovoltaic, bioenergy, public transport and building sectors.”

The study urged EU policy makers to make “strong commitments to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions and move to a green economy.” By doing so, WWF says, Europe can show that aggressively fighting global warming neatly dovetails with developing the catalysts of future employment and economic growth.

“Making a strong emissions reductions commitment will also support the fastest growing and highest job contributing areas of the economy,” Anderson said.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) endorses the WWF study since its overarching message is another important piece of data which points out to politicians that a new green economy based on wind power and other renewables is both achievable and economically sound.

Indeed, the WWF study reinforces an EWEA report, ‘Wind at Work – wind energy and job creation in the EU’ , which was published earlier this year and found that jobs in the European wind energy sector will more than double from 154,000 in 2007 to 325,000 by 2020.

In addition, the WWF study covers some of the same material as a recent European Commission report which found that policies supporting renewable energy sources give a significant boost to the economy and the number of jobs in the EU. That report, ‘The impact of renewable energy policy on economic growth and employment in the European Union’, noted that the RES sector employed roughly 1.4 million people in 2005. Different Commission scenarios suggest that total gross employment in the RES sector in the EU-27 in 2020 would range from 2.3 million people to 2.8 million people.

EWEA believes that politicians dealing with a moribund economy, diminishing energy supplies for a growing population and a besieged environment grappling with global warming caused by burning fossil fuels should take note of these valuable reports and begin acting on them now.

The verdict is in: the world needs a clean, green economy, and it needs it quickly.

Read the WWF report
Read the European Commission’s report

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