Green economy essay sample

The world is currently debating on creation of green jobs in an attempt to transit to low carbon economy. The world also aims at reducing reliance on fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gas (Taylor 2011). 2007/2008 global economic crisis and climate change have necessitated creation of green jobs. Many organizations such as Climate Institute in Australia, Greenpeace & European Renewable Council, and the Australian Geothermal Energy Association & Carnegie Corporation Limited are optimistic that employment will increase significantly by the year 2020 (Cato 2009).

Green jobs are quality jobs that can sustain families, and help in improving the environment. They are, to a larger extent, domestic jobs that usually pay better than other jobs. The jobs reform the way societies use energy. They also represent an economic sector that is marking growth. Green jobs ensure that people no longer use fossil fuels that generate carbon emissions that are harmful. Australian context, as well as international context has been used for a better understanding. Definition of green jobs, role of green jobs in emerging green economies, involvement of Australian government in creation of green jobs, challenges faced by governments in the creating green jobs, and employment sustainability by green jobs have been discussed.

Discussion

An official definition of green jobs has not been established. However, several definitions have been given by different authors, but they all focus towards conserving the environment. According to Cato 2009 (23), “ green jobs refer to work either in agriculture, administrative, research and development, service activities and manufacturing work that contributes towards preserving and restoring the environment.” Specifically, green jobs include jobs that aim at protecting ecosystems, de-carbonizing the economy, efficient water consumption strategies, energy and material reduction through efficient strategies so as to minimize waste, as well as pollution. For example, a scientist who engages in production of fossil fuel that does not produce carbon dioxide, can be said to engage in green job. ILO emphasizes that green jobs should meet certain goals, which include adequate pay, career prospects, workers’ rights, conducive working conditions, and job security. Any job that appears exploitative and does not pay well cannot be said to be green job (Stilwell & Primrose 2010).

Greening the economy gives new opportunities to open up new businesses, lower costs of energy, and open up new markets. It can also lead to increased investments because it generates positive attitudes. Australia is one country where greening the environment has been valued for almost two decades now. In Australia, growth of green jobs is stronger than general business growth. However, little data exists on green job employment, but ACTU and ACF, in Green Gold Rush, reported that in Australia, at least 112, 000 people work in green markets. The green markets in this case included water and recycling, renewable energy, biomaterials, energy efficiency, green buildings, and sustainable water systems. The number of people working in these markets is expected to rise by 2013 to 847, 000. The value of the markets is also expected to rise significantly by $227 billion from the current $15. 5 billion. This growth will only occur through innovation systems of the Australian government, for example, through direct investment by the government. This will be through research and development, government incentives to private investments, and development of knowledge and skills.

The government of Australia funds several projects in order to improve people’s knowledge of climate change. The common wealth government takes seriously the issue of green jobs creation in an attempt to achieve two objectives namely; environmental stewardship and the economic engagement. Some programs that the common wealth government funds include Australian Carbon Trust and the Climate Change Action Fund. Green jobs are closely associated with local governments. Between the year 1998 and 2008, the local government authorities that report on environmental policies doubled some issues by over ten times. Local governments have at least one employee who looks into environmental issues. The council budget funds the local governments so as to carry out their activities effectively. By the year 2008, 94% of the local governments in Australia had at least one employee looking into environmental issues. This marked an increase from 2002 data that showed that only 73% of the LGA concerned themselves with green activities (Collins, Bray& Burgess 2010).

A survey by MAV showed that council activities in matters relating to green activities were driven by expectations of the community, which the local government understood. The council needed to act on these issues in order to show a good example of leadership. Legislative also required that the Local Government Authorities participate actively in environmental activities since other bodies were not acting. It became a requirement that the LGA be funded by the Australian government so as to facilitate these activities. Bureau of Statistics, in 1990, showed that local governments in Australia spent $1. 6 billion on greening environment, but in 2002, LGA spent $4. 1 billion on the same activities. This accounted for more than half of environmental spending in Australia.

21st century marked a heated debate on the role played by green jobs in solving environmental problems such as global financial crisis and climate change. This has resulted into many organizations producing forecasts aimed at increasing human resources for the potential growth of green jobs. Climate Institute in Australia gave a report in 2009, predicting that close to 15, 000 jobs will be created in the construction sector. This followed the proposal that power stations related to infrastructure be set up. The report also indicated that additional 7, 291 constructions would be created by 2020. Additional 7, 600 manufacturing, maintenance, and service jobs would also be created following the construction of the renewable infrastructure. Greenpeace & European Renewable Council also predicts that between 33, 700 and 57, 500 net gains in jobs will be recorded in the year 2020. This will come as a result of electricity consumption cut through ensuring energy efficiency, phasing out of coal power, and increased use of renewable energy (Pearce & Stilwell 2008).

Australian Geothermal Energy Association & Carnegie Corporation Ltd gave a report that focused on wave energy including geothermal energy. The report was named Power to Change. “ This report predicted that 3, 800 permanent jobs will be created by the year 2020 following the installation of 2, 200MW geothermal energy” (Pierce & Stillwel 2008, p. 43). Wave energy, amounting to 1, 500MW, on the other hand would lead to the creation of at least 3, 210 jobs, both direct and indirect by 2020. CSIRO & Dussledorp Skills Forum gives a prediction that 230, 000-340, 000 jobs will come up due to sustainable practices. These jobs will come in the following sectors; mining, construction, agriculture, transport, and manufacturing.

Several factors will lead to attainment of the predicted jobs. Many of these factors relate to climate change. Sectors ought to be concerned with environmental management in order to create green jobs. Many organizations also need to get involved in green jobs development. Climate Change Green paper, from Victoria State, predicts that the following areas will show an increase in green jobs: construction, water markets, green buildings, infrastructure, water efficiency, efficient machinery, renewable energy, carbon market, renovations, and urban design. CSIRO report specific jobs as vital in moving towards a green economy. These include marketing and communication, entrepreneurship, trade skills, planning and design, business management, project management, project requirements assessment, and manufacturing (Goods 2011).

Industry Skills Councils (ISCs) gave a report in the year 2009 claiming that there shall emerge opportunities in environmental research, industrial skills, design and development, emissions monitoring, risk management, and auditing skills. Further, Allan Consulting Group reported that the industries that shall benefit from carbon regulation shall include forestry, renewable energy, crops due to bio fuel, and sequestration technologies. The above overview shows an admirable future as regards green jobs in terms of both work force size and job variety. However, this could be impossible if people do not get proper training in order to perform the jobs adequately. These jobs will require that people demonstrate various skills in addition to technical skills (Dina & Catalin 2011).

Some challenges exist that make it quite hard for Australia to achieve green employment. For instance, the only data available concentrates on renewable energy, plumbers, trades, and construction. There is little data on agriculture, research and development, transport and green accounting. These are some of the potential areas where green employment can be achieved, but it becomes hard due to lack of sufficient data. There is also a problem of skills shortage. This greatly affects the ability of consumers to switch to energy sufficient activities such as the use of LPG rather than petrol in vehicles. Mechanics are not available for such conversion. Inadequate skills affect the use of solar energy (Cato 2009).

Another challenge is the fact that there is the effect of negative feedback, which ought to be addressed. For example, demand for solar panel has remained low over the years because the product is expensive or the waiting list being too long. This could be because the number of trained technicians has remained minimal; hence insufficient. Trained technicians could also be insufficient because the demand for the panels still remains low. Another major issue and a critical one regard demand for green products. This demand needs to be estimated, but without government intervention, this proves difficult. The government needs to address the effect of negative feedback from the consumers (Taylor 2011).

Other issues also exist, which need to be addressed and researched so as to manage climate change. For instance, people need to agree upon one definition of green jobs. Several definitions have been given, which do not seem to have a common meaning. The definition needs to include all jobs that directly or indirectly affect environmental issues. When discussing green jobs, the jobs do not have to be related only to vocational jobs and trades. This is because many professional jobs contribute to green jobs. This issued ought to be discussed so that people do not only relate green jobs to vocational jobs. The understanding should be that green jobs relate to both vocational and professional jobs, which means all fields of employment should be considered (Stilwell & Primrose 2010).

More research would be necessary to understand the required skills for people to tackle environmental issues that have been identified by proponents of green jobs. Finally, there is a speculation that green jobs will increase significantly, but limited data exists regarding current green jobs, in terms of the currently employed people for green jobs. This would help in basing firm’s projections. Without enough current data, it would be hard to speculate accurately. Data base should be established to be in a position to monitor the current green jobs. However, to account for green jobs, a clear definition of green jobs must be established (Collins, Bray & Burgess 2010).

Conclusion

Greening the economy gives new opportunities to open up new businesses, lower costs of energy, open up new markets and it lead to increased investments because it generates positive attitudes. Green jobs will provide employment sustainability. Many green positions will be available such as fuel researchers, environmental engineers, installers of solar panel, supply chain buyers, among others. All organizations that use energy, buy goods, require services, and use natural resources will require knowledgeable employees to give support, for example, in management. The people who work in such sectors need to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills so that people can move totally from ordinary jobs to green jobs.

In Australia, the government supports green employment by funding various programs that aim at preserving the environment, as well as reconstructing it. Governments face several challenges in trying to create green employment. For example, people lack the necessary skills and the customers lack sufficient knowledge regarding the importance of green products. Others claim that the products are too expensive. In order to achieve high performance in green employment, certain issues need to be looked into, which include green skills and training, encouraging innovation culture, provision of business inputs, incentives for environmental performance, and performance assessment.

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