Cleaner, Greener, and Richer

By aiming for a meaningful, universal agreement that puts the planet on the path toward de-carbonization, world leaders meeting in New York for this month's UN climate summit can help to ensure a safer, healthier, and more prosperous world that provides millions with decent work opportunities. It is an opportunity that all should seize.

GENEVA – In the past, action to combat climate change was viewed largely as running counter to economic growth, with “going green” implying a sacrifice of prosperity for the sake of the environment. Today, we know better. By taking action to mitigate climate change, companies are promoting sustainable growth and creating high-quality employment.

The United States, for example, has added 1.2 million “clean” jobs to the economy since January, according to a new study by the Ecotech Institute. Since last year, employment has risen by more than 115% in the solar industry, and jobs related to energy efficiency have increased by over 50%.

In China, the International Renewable Energy Agency reports that more than 1.7 million people are already employed in the renewable-energy sector. And the Global Climate Network estimates that seven million additional jobs could be created if government targets for wind, solar, and hydropower are met. Worldwide, an estimated 5.7 million people were employed directly or indirectly in the global renewable-energy industry in 2012 – a figure that could triple by 2030.

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