Increased employment could be climate change's silver lining – UN

6 December 2007 –

Despite the detrimental effects brought on by climate change, new industries to combat global warming could spur employment, the head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

“Millions of new jobs are among the many silver, if not indeed gold-plated linings on the cloud of climate change,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director.

He pointed out that research shows that these are not just ‘green collar’ jobs targeted at the middle classes, but that opportunities abound for workers in areas ranging from construction, sustainable forestry and agriculture, 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,” Mr. Steiner said.

The research is part of a draft report entitled “Green Jobs: Can the Transition to Environmental Sustainability Spur New Kinds and Higher Levels of Employment?” that was commissioned by UNEP.

It found that the United States environmental industry in 2005 generated over 5.3 million jobs, ten times the number in the country’s pharmaceutical industry.

Delhi, it noted, is introducing new eco-friendly compressed natural gas buses that will create 18,000 new jobs, while Brazil’s ethanol programme has lead to half a million new jobs.

Meanwhile, the top UN climate change official today said that greater efforts are necessary to extend the benefits of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – which allows projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and contribute to sustainable development to earn certified emission reduction credits (CERs) – to Africa.

“There are 850 clean development mechanism projects in 49 developing countries, but only 23 of those projects are in Africa,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “It’s time that the benefits of this important Kyoto Protocol mechanism were expanded in Africa.”

Last November, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched the Nairobi Framework aimed at spreading the spreading the benefits of the CDM.

Since then, several projects have been launched in Africa, but the total number of CDM initiatives on the continent comprise only 2.6 per cent of the some 800 registered projects.

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