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Green energy should create 20 mln jobs by 2030 - U.N.
UNITED NATIONS |
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Development of alternative energy should create more than 20 million jobs around the world in coming decades as governments adopt policies to address the depletion of resources, according to a U.N. report released on Wednesday.
Some 2.3 million people around the world already work in alternative energy jobs with half of them in biofuels, said the report, "Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World," commissioned and funded by the U.N.'s Environment Programme.
Speedy creation of the jobs will depend on countries implementing and broadening policies including capping emissions of greenhouse gases, and the shifting of subsidies from the oil and natural gas sector, to new energy including wind, solar and geothermal power, it said.
"If we do not transform to a low-carbon economy we will miss a major opportunity for the fast tracking of millions of new jobs," Achim Steiner, UNEP director, told reporters.
He said movement toward the jobs will occur even if the world does not come to a new agreement by the end of next year on stabilizing and then cutting greenhouse gases. That's because global population is headed toward 8 billion or 9 billion by 2050, while new resources like metals, oil and gas are becoming more expensive to find, he said.
But if the world waits 10 years to take serious action on greenhouse gases the costs for moving to a green economy will be much higher, he said.
U.S. President George W. Bush walked away from the U.N.'s carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol early in his first term, saying it would raise costs and unfairly exempt rapidly developing countries from emissions limits. Delegates from across the world will try to reach a successor agreement to the Kyoto pact in a U.N. meeting in Copenhagen late next year.
The report was written before the U.S. credit crisis reshaped Wall Street and reverberated around the world raising fears that many sectors could be slowed, including alternative energy.
Steiner said it would be a mistake to ditch green energy policies during the current financial crisis because in the long term the new jobs will make economies stronger and help make goods with less oil and gas.
The report said some 12 million new jobs could be created by 2030 in biofuels-related agriculture and industry.
Biofuel critics say current U.S. ethanol, which is mostly made from corn, does little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But companies are racing to make cleaner, next-generation ethanol from sources including crop waste and rapidly growing non-food crops like switch grass and poplar trees.
The report said many jobs in the biofuels industry are unfair to workers. "Much of the employment on sugarcane and palm oil plantations in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia and Indonesia is marked by poor pay and dangerous working conditions," it said.
"There is also concern that large-scale biofuels production might drive large numbers of people off their land in future years," it said. "Close scrutiny" will be needed to determine what portion of biofuel jobs can be counted as decent jobs, it added.
Manufacturing, installing, and maintaining solar panels should add 6.3 million jobs by 2030 while wind power should add more than 2 million jobs. Even more jobs could be created in the building, recycling, and clean-vehicle manufacturing sectors, the report said.
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