Green Growth and Green Jobs

While the media’s focus is on the negotiations, a lot of the conference here is about presentations from governments and NGOs on many different environmentally friendly things that have worked when they have been implemented.

This morning I attended a seminar put on by the Austrian government who have over the past 10 years been investing in the green technology sector.

The panellists were:

Isabelle Pilmon (Austrian Chamber of Commerce)

Mauel Graf (Global 2000, Austria)

Gernot Wagner (EDF, New York)

The presentation started off with a brief overview from an Austrian government official; in 2008 there were 5% employed in the environmental technology sector. The growth rate in the green sector has grown 12% over the past couple of years, despite the recession. The plan right now is to have 20% working in green tech sector by 2020 and they are currently on track for that.

An example of the importance of the investments in the green tech sector can be seen in the town of Guessing, which has had a biomass power plant since 2001 and is now 100% energy-autonomous. This has lead to a substantial number of green jobs and also created eco tourism.

From Isabelle Pilmon’s presentation:

This sector has had increasing has linear growth in the demand for the environmental technology, and also in investment. The green tech sector currently makes up 4% of the Austrian GDP. This is expected to continue increasing rather rapidly as there is also an every emerging market for this technology. Especially as the more the world looks at reducing carbon emissions the bigger the demand for this market will become, and it will become a big part of the economy if countries do seriously address the issue of climate change.

From Mauel Graf’s presentation:

Since developed countries should be aiming to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2020 that will create incredible growth in the green tech sector. By investing in the green tech sector not only will we meet our environmental targets but it will create 250,000 to 750,000 jobs by 2020. Also, the creation of the new jobs in renewable energy will be 7 time higher than the loss of jobs in the Coal and Nuclear Industry. However there needs to be subsidies to get the market started off, and we should be removing the subsidies from oil and gas companies and transferring them to the green tech sector.

From Gernot Wagner’s presentation:

We can’t sell the green tech sector by talking about climate change, we have to sell the sector by selling the idea of more jobs. This should be an easy sell given that we’re currently in a recession. For example, at the moment all the windmills are currently manufactured from steel in China instead of using already existing steel miss in North America that have being shut down during the recession. Also, businesses innovate all the time and we should be directing that innovation into the green tech sector, and maybe get fossil fuel companies to start thinking of themselves as energy companies. Finally it has been shown over and over in many different countries and in California that implementing a cap and trade program, or even starting the process of introducing the legislation for it has been shown to create an incredible jump in the number of green jobs.