From: , Global Policy Innovations Program, More from this Affiliate
Published October 23, 2008 10:58 AM

Green Jobs Transcript

DEVIN STEWART: I'm Devin Stewart from the Carnegie Council. Thank you very much for coming. Today we're talking about Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World. I have the original report right here.

This is extremely timely. The Obama campaign has tapped into this idea of green jobs, sustainable jobs.

The essence, in my view, captures the need for work worldwide—decent work—and for the economy to be sustainable. These themes come out in interviews I have had all over northeast and southeast Asia. Jobs are where the rubber meets the road of a policy issue and a local issue, as well as how people view their immediate surroundings.

I was in Beijing last week. I would love to tell you about those meetings. But we have six panelists to get to, so I'm not going to take much time. I would really like to get right into the report. It's from the ILO [International Labour Organization] and others.

I'm going to turn it right over to Michael Renner, who is Senior Researcher of the Worldwatch Institute. He is one of the authors of the report that, again, just came out a few days ago. So this is a real treat, to have you guys. Thank you so much for coming.

Michael Renner, please take it away.

MICHAEL RENNER: Thanks very much, Devin, for hosting this meeting. Thanks also to Kevin Cassidy, right in the front row here, of the ILO, for organizing this meeting.

As Devin just said, green jobs seems to be a very timely issue. Certainly, I think with the news that is, of course, breaking as we speak, in terms of the financial crisis. I think that is really a very strong reminder that in many, many ways the economy—and, by and large, that means the global economy rather than just the U.S. economy—is one that may not work terribly well in terms of jobs and livelihoods. There are certainly a number of questions in terms of the environmental sustainability.

So I think both of these issues are extremely important. Green jobs is, of course, the issue that is really sort of at the intersection of economy and environment.

As you may know, over the past year or so in particular, "green jobs" has been a term that has been used more and more. What we found is that there really is not a single definition as such. We did not really attempt to come up with a particularly clever or narrow one. We, rather, decided that we would approach this by regarding employment that substantially contributes to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment as fulfilling the category of "green jobs."

What we did do—and I think this is something that is really quite important—is that we came up with the concept of "shades of green." 

When you think about it, particularly in the context of the global climate challenge, across the entire economy there is a tremendous challenge in really doing things differently—decarbonizing so many industrial and other activities. 

Clearly, as industries and communities and governments and individuals attempt to do this, the different measures that are undertaken will, of course, get us a little bit ahead or perhaps a very big step ahead. So you will find a whole array of different measures. In some cases this may just be a very light shade of green, a slight improvement. In other cases it may really be a huge step ahead.

We did not want to be too judgmental, because, clearly, particularly in the short run, we cannot expect everything to turn around from one day to the next.

So we employed this term "shades of green" to indicate that there are really different degrees to which we can expect progress toward a more sustainable economy.

In terms of the job effects, broadly speaking, in many cases you will find that moving from less sustainable to more sustainable tends to be also more labor-intensive. So on the whole, it is quite likely that we will gain jobs in this transition. Some jobs obviously will be in danger or will be lost, such as in the fossil fuel industries, in mining, and some other highly polluting sectors. Sean Sweeney, to my left here, will address some of those issues later on as well.

In addition to the question of job gains/job losses, some employment will also be substituted—for example, if we move from fossil fuel industries to renewables, and to the extent that we move from a car-centered transportation system to one that is more balanced in terms of its modal mix, embraces rail and urban mass transit more than it does now, or moving from waste disposal to recycling, for example—those kinds of substitutions.

We will also see—and I think this will ultimately affect far greater numbers of jobs, and ultimately, really, all jobs—there will be a certain kind of transformation, which may not be terribly visible. This may entail things like workplace practices that shift in perhaps very subtle ways. It may change methods and technologies in different occupations. It very often will include things like greater efficiency of the use of energy, materials, and water. It may not be visible, but it will be very, very important.

So let me just very briefly talk about some of the main sectors that we look at in this report.

The first one concerns the energy industry. We specifically looked at renewables. As you may all know, renewables like wind, solar, photovoltaic, solar thermal, biofuels have seen rapid growth over the past several years. We now find, on the basis of existing studies and reports, that there are at least 2.3 million jobs in renewables worldwide. 

This is a very conservative estimate. It includes about 300,000 jobs in the wind power sector, about 170,000 in solar photovoltaics, more than 600,000 in solar thermal, and about 1 million in biofuels and biomass. Projections are that in most of these sectors we will see continued rapid growth over the next few years and decades.

So that's very positive news. Of course, also the renewables jobs—the people who make and install solar panels, the people who put up wind turbines—those are among the most visible of green jobs. But as I said before, there are many, many others that are less visible, but nonetheless also very important—transportation, for example.

We see some movement toward producing more efficient automobiles. That can be seen as at least a light shade of green. We did a rough calculation, based on sales-weighted data for Western Europe, the United States, and Japan, and we found that the jobs that are bound up with producing the most efficient automobiles amount to about a quarter of a million jobs in those parts of the world, out of about 4 million all together. So it's still a relatively small portion.

In other countries that are important—China increasingly, India, Russia, Brazil—unfortunately, we can't quite do the same kind of calculation, because the data that would be required for that are just not available. This also speaks to a point that generally holds: We do need far, far better data if we want to gain a better and better sense of just how many green jobs there are worldwide.

Now, more efficient automobiles are important, but ultimately we need a better modal mix. We need, as it were, a revival of railway systems, which have eroded very, very strongly in many countries and have actually led to job loss in rail systems, including even in countries like India and China, but also here in the United States and in Europe. A renewed commitment and new investment in modern rail systems is really essential and could lead to very large numbers of green jobs around the world.

The same is true for urban mass transit, where there is evidence of some revival in certain countries, in certain cities. For example, so-called bus rapid-transit systems are becoming very popular on all continents. We see movements, as we have seen here in New York City, to replace old diesel buses, which are very polluting buses, with CNG buses or hybrid electrics.

Just on the way here, riding the subway, I actually noted a little advertisement by the MTA which said, "We were green in 1960 and we're even greener today."

I think that speaks to that. By and large, public transit systems are far greener than an automobile-centered system—not to say they are perfect, but they are certainly comparatively preferable from this perspective.

Moving on to another sector that is very important: buildings and construction: There is a huge existing housing stock which needs to be retrofitted, weatherized. This is really a huge opportunity that needs to be taken up. 

We have some evidence from countries like Germany and France and others that indeed by weatherizing existing buildings, we can both generate new jobs in the construction industry and also make sure that existing ones are retained. The German case, for example, shows that even at a time of recession, they were able to save many tens of thousands of jobs that otherwise would have gone by the wayside.

The same, of course, is also true for new buildings. We have a building boom in Asia, particularly in China. Ensuring that new buildings that go up meet reasonably decent green-building standards is essential and again can help to green this massive industry, which, by one estimate, employs about 110 million people worldwide.

Let me move on to recycling. When we talk about recycling, the most visible aspect, of course, is the curbside collection systems that operate in many cities. But the recycling sector as a whole is far, far broader. It does include, of course, materials collection and recovery, but it also does include sorting and processing. It includes scrap-based, so-called secondary manufacturing in many basic industries. It also includes remanufacturing of appliances, equipment, and so on.

Particularly, we looked at a number of basic industrial sectors: iron and steel, aluminum, paper, and cement. We found that these are among the most energy-intensive and polluting industries that there are. But going with a scrap-based system of production—in other words, taking scrap materials and bringing them back into the production process—saves enormous amounts of energy and can also help retain jobs that otherwise are in danger of being lost.

We don't have very good figures, but we know that in the steel industry probably about 200,000 to 250,000 jobs are bound up in so-called secondary production. In aluminum, it's a smaller figure. In Western industrialized countries, probably about 30,000; perhaps an equal number in China. We don't really have very good data there. Again, the same is true for some of the other basic industries.

On the whole, China, by some estimates, has about 10 million people working in the recycling sector, broadly defined; the United States, about 1 million; Brazil, about a half a million.

I will conclude my portion of the presentation with this. We also looked at two sectors, agriculture and forestry, that again have really enormous potential for greening. But if we look realistically at the current trends, I think they are really, by and large, still heading in the opposite direction. In agriculture, many of the so-called smaller holders, small farmers, in developing countries are feeling an enormous squeeze and are very often driven off their land, often being replaced by very highly intensive industrialized forms of agriculture.

Organic agriculture is, of course, rising. Sales, I think, amounted to about $100 billion in 2006. But relative to the entire agricultural system, it's still a fairly small share.

The same is true in forestry. There are efforts to certify sustainable ways of doing forestry, but illegal logging, in particular, is very, very rampant. It's a problem that I think we barely have a handle on.

So while there are opportunities to do things in a more responsible manner, in a more sustainable manner, we really have a very long way to go.

But I think again that the need and opportunity to respond to the climate change challenge—in other words, to ensure that agriculture and forestry do not contribute to the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere, but rather help us get into a better position—are enormous, in terms of rebuilding the agricultural system, ensuring that we cut down on deforestation, and cut down on illegal logging. The potential is enormous, but I think also the challenge that we have ahead of us is equally large.

So I'll stop there and hand it over to my colleague, Jill Kubit.

DEVIN STEWART: Before we get to Jill, just a couple of comments.

I just want to highlight your shades of green. That works very well with a principle that we try to promote here at the Carnegie Council called pluralism and fairness, as well as three pillars that we see as building a more ethical world, and also a theme I heard many, many times in China last week. There are many ways to let a thousand flowers bloom. There are many ways to reach a common goal.

I just want to bring your attention to this Tom Friedmanop-ed this week. Essentially, since Congress has bailed on us, he's calling for a green bailout, which would, instead of leaving a bunch of empty homes, leave an actual infrastructure in place, like the railroad boom did and the IT boom did. The current boom is producing, as he put it, empty homes in Florida that can't produce much. For the next boom, we hope that there could be some long-term investment in place.

I'm going to turn it over to Jill Kubit. She is Assistant Director of the Global Labor InstituteatCornell University, and she is one of the authors of this report.

JILL KUBIT: Thank you, Devin. Again, thanks to Kevin, who organized this, and to my colleagues here, Michael and Sean.

The potential for green jobs growth is actually tremendous. As Michael pointed out, we see 2.3 million jobs in the renewable energy sector that we currently have. Some of the projected numbers that people talk about are as follows: If there is the right level of investment and the right incentives, we could see 8 million jobs in solar and wind by 2030, and during the same time, we could see 3.5 million jobs in retrofitting buildings in the European Union and the United States.

Although these findings are considerable, they need to be evaluated against the current backdrop of the two major challenges we see that are facing humanity today. Michael talked a bit about this, but I'm going to just restate it a little bit.

The first challenge is to address the employment and the poverty crisis. There are 1.3 billion workers who earn less than $2.00 a day. This is 43 percent of the global workforce. These are people who are working who earn below poverty wages. Unemployment also affects 195 million people.

In developing countries, we see many people who are working informally. These situations are marked by very low pay, dangerous work conditions, and they lack a safety net.

In addition, 1 billion people lack basic services to adequate housing, access to energy and to clean water.

The second challenge is one Michael already talked about, and that is climate change: How do we reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Stabilizing the climate requires a major transformation to our current infrastructure. This means the way we see our entire infrastructure—our buildings, our transportation systems, the way we use energy, materials, the things we produce, the things we consume, water, and waste, and industry. I'm sure I'm leaving some stuff out.

What we attempted to do in this report was to put these two realities together and address both of them. We state that in order to make this transition to a low-carbon economy, we actually need people to do this work. We need people to manufacture and install solar panels and wind turbines. We need people to design and build green buildings, retrofitting buildings, expanding our rail and our public transit systems. We need people to plant trees. The list goes on and on.

In essence, investment in transition to the new economy will create green jobs.

It is through this lens of both addressing climate and addressing poverty that we need to assess the current state of green employment and identify the challenges to growing them.

The first challenge is, how do we scale them up? Green jobs are expanding, but it is not fast enough to meet these two global challenges. By and large, renewable energy, efficient vehicles, green buildings, public transit, sustainable forestry management, and the list that Michael talked about—these are still niche markets. They account for very small shares of the total market volumes. We are talking about less than 5 percent. In most cases it's much less, and in most countries it's very low.

In addition, we have seen relatively limited progress in greening of the economy and the creation of green jobs when you compare it to the expanding labor market. The labor market is expanding by tens of millions of workers each year. For 2008, the ILO estimates that there will be 40 million new jobs, most of which will not be in the green economy.

The second major question we asked ourselves is, how do we distribute these jobs globally? In order to meet our stated GHG [Green House Gases] reduction goals, we need to green all aspects of our economy. However, the vast majority of the jobs discussed in the report are concentrated in a small handful of countries—mainly, the European Union, the United States, Japan, and some developing countries, like China, India, and Brazil.

The top five countries, mostly in the developed world, control 72 percent of global wind capacity. Germany, Denmark, and Spain are leading the way. For PV [Photovoltaic] solar installations that are on the grid, Japan and Germany again account for 87 percent. In solar hot water, China has 65 percent. In fuel ethanol, the United States and Brazil hold 90 percent of global output.

Another startling fact is that one out of three of all solar panels and all wind turbines are made in Germany.

With few exceptions, large parts of the developing world are almost completely excluded from the green economy. When you do see large numbers—we talk about recycling, and that there are 10 million jobs in China—these jobs are often in the informal sector and they are often poorly paid; they cannot be considered decent. You also see large numbers in biofuel production as well in Brazil, but again the same thing holds true.

The point about the distribution of jobs is underscored if you take a look at the investment in the green economy. In 2006, 82 percent of global renewables investment was in the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries, with Europe and the United States taking three-fourths of the investment. China had 7 percent, India 4 percent, Latin America and the rest of the developing world each had 3 percent—3 percent for Latin America and 3 percent for all of the rest of the countries.

For the most part, these green jobs are not reaching those who need it the most, the 80 percent of the world's workforce located in developing countries. 

Whereas jobs in technology, development, and manufacturing are still limited to a handful of countries—and we project that it will probably remain so—jobs in installations, operating and maintaining renewable energy systems, and weatherization of buildings could become green jobs in a far broader set of countries. We already see promising solar initiatives that can be found in countries like Bangladesh and Kenya.

Alternative energy and energy-efficiency projects in developing countries will need to be scaled up dramatically and will need to find a funding mechanism in order to do so.

I'm going to conclude with the last challenge. We see it as, how can we make business practices more sustainable?

A major driving force behind the inadequate magnitude of green jobs rests in our current economic model. For publicly traded companies, the obligation is to shareholders, whose interests lie with keeping costs down and increasing profit margins. 

Although this is starting to change with the introduction of carbon-trading schemes, pollution is predominantly an externalized cost, and there is little incentive for reducing it. This keeps unsustainable fossil fuel industries and highly polluting industries very profitable. In 2007, Exxon Mobil reached a record profit of $40.6 billion.

In addition, publicly traded companies are often encouraged to maximize short-term profit. This can come at the expense of long-term solutions, even if these solutions do make economic sense in the long run.

A transition to a low-carbon economy and growing green jobs requires more long-term thinking. In the long run, companies that are leaders in green design, technology, and product innovation will end up being able to retain jobs and to create jobs, while those that resist the transition can see substantial business loss and job penalties.

A do-nothing strategy will simply make the adjustment to a greener economy far more costly and disruptive. But the current economic model clouds this thinking by placing greater emphasis on the short-term gain.

That's the conclusion of my report.

DEVIN STEWART: Thank you very much, Jill. It's rare to have all the authors from a report here, so we can hold them accountable. If you have any questions, I'm sure they can answer all of them.

We now have the final author, Sean Sweeney, who is Director of the Global Labor Institute at Cornell University.

SEAN SWEENEY: Thanks, Devin. Thanks, Kevin.

Just a few more points to underscore some of the things that Jill pointed out.

One of the issues around the report that we grappled with over the eight or nine months that we worked on it was, how much do we present an optimistic picture of green jobs, and how much do the data support that optimism, and how much do we stress what needs to be done? I guess my concluding comments are more towards the latter.

Having said that, I see it as very much a tip-of-the-iceberg situation. The question is, how will the iceberg be revealed? How will it actually happen?

When we talk about a transition, one of the things I think we have to guard against is this idea that the transition to a sustainable green economy is inevitable. If you listen to some of the discussions in the policy world or in the media or from companies, they say, "Well, of course, this is a foregone conclusion. We have to change. This is going to happen. It's inevitable."

But when we look in the cold light of the day at the extent of the challenge we face, we have to have a global transition at a speed that's probably in the realm of maybe two decades or three, maximum. It has to go against the existing trends. That is a very big ask of human society at this point in history. 

We have never had a just transition. In all the economic transitions you can think of, there have always been many, many losers, some winners. Now we've got to manage a transition which is faster, global, and against the trend. The data coming out this week about CO2 emissions points to, again, acceleration of CO2, not a slowdown, not a reduction, on the global scale.

So the task is really big.

The investment issue, I think, is critical to this. We see very encouraging investment in renewable energy, which is what you would expect when oil has gone through the roof and is fluctuating dramatically. 

Some of this, of course, is companies and countries wanting to be green, but a lot of it is just pure profiting and making money out of green energy and putting the investment there—but not to be discouraged. A hundred and fifty billion is an exponential increase on investment, even at the beginning of this decade, 2002-2003. So it has gone up maybe four times and will continue to go up, we expect.

But if you look at the Stern Review that came out about two years ago, it pointed to a 50 percent reduction in R&D in terms of clean technology. What we have seen from 1980 onwards was a real drop. Once the crisis of the oil shock of the 1970s was perceived to be over, then the investment fell off. We have to be very careful that that doesn't happen again.

The International Energy Agency has warned against "short-termism," something Jill touched upon in her comments. They said—and I quote from one of their reports—"R&D investment is simply not adequate, given the magnitude of the climate challenge."

So there is a lot more investment that has to come from somewhere.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of investment still going into the fossil fuel economy. The oil companies, of course, and the coal companies are putting money into the continuation of this form of energy production, which is destroying organic life and threatening human civilization. 

This is something which is a really serious problem. The subsidies alone for fossil fuel—and some of it is implemented by the World Bank and the other international financial institutions—dwarfs the amount of money being invested in clean energy. So this is a serious problem—up to maybe $250 billion a year in subsidies. 

Then you have the issue that, in just one project alone, the ecological catastrophe known as the tar sands extractionin Alberta has attracted up to $100 billion in projected investments by 2020. Already, $50 billion has gone into that project. This is a massive, massive problem ecologically, and it's not actually helping meet energy needs in a serious way.

Another issue around investment is the question of carbon capture and storage, or sequestration, as it's sometimes called. I'm not sure how many people in this audience are familiar with it. I won't go into the techniques involved, because I don't know much about it myself. 

But I do know that the level of investment in carbon capture is so low that they are not expecting carbon capture and storage to be at commercial scale for at least another 20 years. That's if it's started immediately. What we are seeing is a few pilot projects—FutureGen was one in the United States, recently closed down—that are promoting carbon capture.

It's very controversial. But aside from the controversial aspects of it is the fact that the power companies don't want to put up the tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars necessary to develop a technology to demonstrate it and then put it on the market. The return on investment is decades away. That's one of the problems we have. The private markets want returns fairly quickly. They can't imagine an economy 20, 30 years out, in many instances.

So these are some of the issues.

We know, through the events in the United States and around the world this week, there is money available, if we have the political will to make it available. The bailout dollars are enormous. Before that, there was theNorthern Rock nationalization and the Royal Bank of Scotland, $100 billion in the United Kingdom. So there's a lot of money available—$1.2 trillion spent annually on military expenditures. More than half of that is by the United States.

So it's not that we don't have the money. Think of the money necessary for the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved, which could make a major contribution to creating green and sustainable work, if that money was made available.

My last couple of points are on the worker issues. Jill and I work for the Global Labor Institute, and as you can probably tell by the tone of my comments, we take a very pro-worker perspective on a lot of these questions. The concept of a just transition is that in this transition that we hope will happen to a green and sustainable economy, the risks and the benefits should be shared by everybody. 

A coal miner in West Virginia should not pay the price of solving the climate crisis. They should be protected and supported. This concept came from the United States labor movement, with the late Tony Mazzocchi and the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers, who modeled this idea that workers should get support on the GI bill that came during World War IIand after World War II that supported people through college and retraining when the military jobs were no longer available to them.

What we have seen as this targeted approach to just transition to support workers affected actually needs to be applied now to the whole global project, which is going to take 20 or 30 years. It's not a question of a safety net. Just transition, supporting workers, is actually a restructuring program for very much the whole economy.

In the report we take on some of the issues around what they call "flexicurity" in Europe, the whole debate over supporting workers' rights and access to employment, even if certain jobs must go as a result of competition—in this case, climate protection.

My last point here is, the issue in terms of just transition is, how do we take charge of the transition politically? How do we make sure that resources that are available to human society are used to expedite the transition and to scale up green jobs en masse? 

Left to present trends, the green jobs will be expected to grow, but they are not going to grow at the speed they need to grow, and the tools for doing that will not get in the toolbox fast enough to really address this pressing climate challenge, as well as the employment challenge.

Thanks, Devin.

DEVIN STEWART: Thank you very much, Sean. I have been hearing this phrase "scaling up" a lot these past several days, especially as we look at climate change. I think the urgency of climate change and also the need to scale up make a very good case for international cooperation. I know there are a lot of obstacles to international cooperation. But those two sort of core pillars—the survival of the species, and the need to make initiatives much bigger than just the national level.

We are going to get some commentary, working from the outside in. We are going to start with Peter Poschen. He is Senior Policy Specialist at the Policy Integration Department at the ILO. I'm sure he's going to integrate a lot of different comments. Then we are going to take it inward and turn it to the audience.

Peter, thank you very much. I look forward to your comments.

PETER POSCHEN: Thank you, Devin, on behalf of the International Labour Organization, for having us.

I think it's very fitting that we should have this discussion in an organization that discusses ethics in international policy, because green jobs is really at the crossroads of two big ethical questions. One is social justice and the other is climate change and an intact environment for current and future generations. I think that one cannot be achieved without the other.

I want to make three points in my comments, two which I see as salient points that come out from the report. One is that climate change is a workplace issue. It's not an environmental issue. The second is that equity will be key to redressing both the social justice crisis and climate change. The third one is an outlook from the perspective of those who initiated this work as to where the Green Jobs Initiative thinks this needs to be taken so that we get traction on it.

Climate change has so far been discussed mostly in environmental circles, and the climate change negotiations are still mostly between ministers of the environment. I think what this report and what others have made clear is that climate change is much more than an environmental issue, and if we are to address it, we are looking at a major transformation of economies and of societies that will affect the way everybody works and consumes. 

It's something on the scale of the Industrial Revolution, but it needs to happen faster than the first Industrial Revolution happened.

It's a workplace issue and it's also a development issue. If developing countries are going to be denied their rights to development as a consequence of measures that need to be taken to reduce emissions, then it's a nonstarter. I think we should have no illusions about that.

One of the important message from the report is that the world does actually not have to choose between protecting the environment, arresting dangerous climate change, and development. If you do it right, if you orient investments in the right direction, you can address both simultaneously.

But as the report also shows, that is by no means a foregone conclusion. The business-as-usual scenarios will realize only a fraction of the benefits that are possible. Given the timescales on which we need changes, they will fall far short of addressing either the social problem or the environmental crisis.

The second one that I think is important to retain from this report is that equity will be crucial for the political sustainability of any new climate deal. Industry is calling for stable investment frameworks. A new power plant has to live for 40 and 50 years and generate a return. So you need stability in the way that the investment incentives are set and that prices will develop over time.

But there is no way that stability can be generated if there isn't an equitable deal. Take the example of trade, which was sold as a win-win for everybody, until it dawned that that was not so. The support for liberalizing trade is eroding because of that, because people were sold on an illusion about everybody winning in this.

The rescue package for Wall Street failed, at least in its first attempt, arguably because it was not seen as a fair deal.

Similarly, there will be no climate deal if there isn't equity between countries, industrialized ones with their historical load of emissions and the developing ones that in the future will have to take part in this effort.

We see green jobs as a concept that helps to square that circle. It can bring those, at first sight, conflicting objectives together. From our perspective, from the ILO and from the United Nations Environment Program, we see this as our contribution to the climate debate, and as a positive contribution to this debate, something that should help to reach an agreement.

It is, in some ways, a totally new coalition, that you have environmental agencies working with labor agencies together in addressing a common problem. The fact that the International Trade Union Confederation and theInternational Organization of Employers have joined that initiative and are part of the Green Jobs Initiative I think is hopeful. We need broader and broader coalitions across social and economic groups to make the changes happen in the time that we have.

To get that, we need coherent policies and we need engagement, active engagement, and support from major stakeholders, and we need their know-how. I think it is essential that business and workers and their representatives are part of these negotiations, that they help to inform the policies. They will be more effective and more efficient policies because they are richer, they are better informed about what is happening in sectors and enterprises in different regions and community, and they will be able to use the support of those groups in their implementation and make them steadier.

The report has been a passive effort of collecting information that is out there. It shows that there are enormous knowledge gaps. Something that the Green Jobs Initiative will do in the next step is to drill down and look at individual sectors. 

A lot of the dynamics that we are seeing, job dynamics and economic dynamics, will actually be within individual sectors—for example, the transport sector; for example, the power sector. We need more clarity about how this will play out and how we can seize opportunities and get just transitions for those who will be at the receiving end of change.

We need to be more country-specific. We need to be more region-specific. We are planning, together with the United Nations Environment Program, on the second phase that would bring together a green economy and a green jobs program to address the economic viability, the investment needs, and the job implications in one goal, in one package.

DEVIN STEWART: Thank you very much, Peter. Just to highlight two themes, equity, the need for fairness, is a concept that we would like to advance in international relations at the Carnegie Council. It helps overcome the prisoner's dilemma. If you have trading partner or a negotiation partner that shares your starting point of a fairer world, then you can actually achieve a more equitable result and actually a more efficient result, because you are more likely to come to a sustainable and actual agreement.

The other point that Susan Aaronson has made is policy coherence. We have an article of that title on our Web site, Policy Innovations. Check it out. It's free.

Norine Kennedy is next up. She is Vice President at the Environmental and Energy Department at the U.S. Council for International Business.

As usual, we have a pluralistic discussion here. We have international organizations, we have NGOs, and we have business associations as well. I don't know if that's how you describe the USCIB. It is advancing business interests. I wouldn't say that business interests are exclusive from the rest of the world, but I would say that this adds a lot of balance and credibility to this panel.

It's great to have you, Norine. Welcome and take it away.

NORINE KENNEDY: Thanks very much for that introduction.

I would just like to add my voice in welcoming this report and this initiative. I think we have come a long way. I'm sure all of you remember, those of you who have memories reaching back to the prehistoric times when we talked about environmental protection as something that went contrary to job creation—now we have a report that is talking about environmental protection as a catalyst for job creation. So that's a very good thing.

The organization that I work for is based here in New York. We are the U.S. representative for a larger organization called the International Organization of Employers, which interfaces with the ILO. In our constituency and membership, we represent some 135 employers' federations, in countries both developed and developing, and within our membership we have a very wide range of, obviously, nationalities, but also sectors and sizes of companies.

I guess that's my first point: We don't have a single monolithic business voice. Hopefully, that pluralism and diversity, and sometimes cacophony, will be a resource for this report and speak to many of the different sectors that the authors have spoken to, which I'm sure we will go more deeply into as the initiative continues.

From the perspective of how this report will go forward, I think it has very successfully made the ethics case. It has made the social case. It has made the environmental case. I'm not sure it has yet made the business case. I think that that's imperative if we are going to see these transformative moves both in developed and developing countries.

I think, from an IOE perspective, from a business perspective, we are very glad to see the focus on jobs and workplaces as a place in which progress can come and is coming already. That's very positive—the focus on markets, even when markets are messy and not functioning optimally, the importance of enabling conditions, because I think, more basically, we are not going to see job creation in countries unless we have the right conditions in place. Those are the most basic conditions: human rights, democratic process, enforcement of rules, and so on.

We need to have partnerships. No single sector can do this by themselves. Certainly we don't expect the governments to make this right. It's not going to happen just top-down. We are going to need all the different interest groups, notably business, to come forward. Then again, we are going to need to make a business case.

I think in OECD countries' business communities, I would say we have climbed the learning curve fairly well, and we understand the synergy, that pursuing more environmentally responsible manufacturing processes and products, and behaving in a more responsible way, is going to open new markets to us. It's going to grow our businesses and hopefully bring value to consumers and investors.

I think less clear—and we would like to see it become clear in the course of this initiative—is that business can also make a tremendous contribution to solving sustainability challenges, bringing resources to bear on sustainability challenges. 

I think in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change one analysis showed that some 85 percent of the resources needed for mitigation and adaptation was going to come from the business community. If that's in fact going to happen, I think the business case is going to have to come through much more strongly, and I think particularly in developing countries.

Just as the business community is not monolithic, I don't think we can make oversimplifications about developing countries either. We have developing countries like China and India, with growing middle classes and rapid economic growth, and then we have the most vulnerable developing countries that have very different needs. The meaning of green jobs in those more vulnerable countries is going to be very different.

A quick word about definitions. We very much appreciate that there is a basic acceptance that we are talking about a range of shades of green. But I would take it one step further and say that rather than concentrating on green as an adjective, we also think about green as a verb, and that we think about greening all sectors and all jobs, both those that exist and those that are going to be created.

Definitions do matter. It's part of making the business case, so people understand what we are talking about, who we are talking about, so that we can make a persuasive case. Certainly within the IOE and within different national circumstances, we know that there are different views of what green constitutes. 

Is the nuclear industry considered to be green? Is biotechnology considered to be green? Is hydropower considered to be green? Depending on where you sit, I think you will hear very different answers. I'm not necessarily going to try to argue about their validity or lack of validity.

I also think that we have to be a little careful in making the green case to developing countries. Again, not to oversimplify, but to say that, at least for my business colleagues in developing countries, they hear "green" and they think, "Expensive, difficult. What you guys can do in the United States, but we can't possibly do, because we don't have the resources. We're small companies and we have bigger problems to face."

So I think that part of the challenge as the initiative goes forward is how we mainstream this idea, how we make "green" a verb, as well

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2017©. Copyright Environmental News Network