Towards a new age of green jobs

A green job is employment in any industry contributing to preserving or restoring environmental quality in that sector and allowing for sustainable development. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimise (or altogether avoid) generation of all forms of waste and pollution.

With a firm belief that that green jobs are the future for sustainable development, Santha Sheela Nair, vice-chairman, Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission, is on a mission to promote the new and emerging concept. In fact, the entire process of preparation of the 12th Five Year Plan will be viewed through a “green lens,” she asserts.

A green job can be a white or blue collared job in any sector: agriculture, manufacturing, research and development, administrative and service activities such as IT, finance, teaching and so on. Furthermore, a green job creates work that provides adequate wages, safe working conditions, job security and worker rights, she says.

“The idea is that a new age of green jobs will allow India to make the much-needed swift transition into a low carbon economy, while also pulling millions out of poverty through job creation,” she said. Increasing environmental awareness is changing and increasing legislation supporting the environment, which will mean increased environmental litigation, lawyers and policy writers.

Growth of global carbon markets will mean an increase in carbon finance consultants, analysts, financiers, an increase in carbon accountants, business risk analysts and more.

A rise in green buildings and energy efficiency is increasing the demand for architects, engineers, technicians, plumbers, construction workers.

And a shift towards renewable energy is resulting in increased employment per kilowatt per hour of energy produced when compared to fossil fuel energy, not only in large commercial plants but also in rural villages allowing for decentralised renewable energy systems. This means more engineering jobs, more construction jobs and more management jobs, Ms. Nair said emphasising that these are just a few sectors and jobs out of the hundreds of jobs that will be transformed and created in the future.

According to experts, the fast growing green energy sector could create a million jobs in the next few years and more universities are coming up with postgraduate courses in environmental science to cater to the needs of the companies in this emerging sector.

Green jobs in energy supply could be in research, construction and monitoring of power plant industrial efficiency including cogeneration, plant efficiency and carbon sequestration; renewables and fuel cell research, design, manufacture, installation and monitoring; energy engineers focussed on increased power plant efficiency. In transport, green jobs would involve research and design on more fuel efficient vehicles and on public transport systems, manufacture of alternatively fuelled vehicles and many more.

“Even in financial services, green jobs are there. In the developed countries, the business schools offer MBA in Green Economy. It is time that Indian business schools begin offering the same,” says Ms. Nair.

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