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 April 09, 2010
Clean energy economy could create 10.5 million jobs in India -- study

 ClimateWire - The world could create 19.5 million "green" jobs in the coming decade -- more than half in India alone -- if countries adopt clean energy and climate change policies, a new report has found.

Using optimistic estimates from seven member organizations, the Global Climate Network predicted the jobs created directly from an expansion of the low-carbon energy, and indirectly in the industries that supply the new energy economy.

In some cases, it included "induced" jobs -- ones the authors said might be created by people having newfound access to electricity, or savings from energy efficiency.

"The knock-on effect of bringing renewable energy is it could kick-start a whole new range of economic activity," said Andrew Pendleton, one of the authors of the report and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research in the United Kingdom. In India, nearly 400 million people are not connected to the grid, he said.

India showed the most staggering job creation potential of 10.5 million new jobs if the plans of the country's 2008 National Action Plan on Climate Change are considered. The plan sets an ambitious renewable energy target of 10 percent by 2012, but experts said India generally achieves about half of its energy goals.

If indeed India implements half its proposed targets, the authors project the wind sector could develop 150,000 to 250,000 jobs. If India aggressively exports its wind power technology to corner 10 percent of the global markets in the next decade, it could establish another 288,000 new jobs.

By the same measurements, the solar industry could lead to 117,000 to 235,000 jobs.

About 5 million jobs would come from growing biofuels, which is a controversial strategy, the report acknowledges. Questions arise about food security if biofuels displace crops, poor payments to agricultural laborers in low-skilled jobs, and the uncertain low-carbon potential of the fuel.

But the jobs in wind and solar photovoltaic cells are worth creating, because they will help position India in the growing export market, the report says.

Michael Levi, a senior energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, was skeptical that clean energy would have much impact on Indian jobs. Given the country's 1.13 billion population and the staggering number of its labor force -- 520 million with 7 percent unemployment -- the clean energy job creation is almost inconsequential, he said.

"If I told a policymaker in India that wind has the ability to create a couple of hundred thousand jobs in India, they'll laugh at me," he said. "Their primary motive for dealing with energy problems is that they have energy problems."

Levi said it is likely that jobs created in the new energy areas will be greater than jobs lost in the old energy areas, which means a net job gain in the energy industry. But that does not necessarily mean an economywide job gain, he said.

"The bulk of the economy is neither in old or new energy; it is in other things," said Levi.

Pendleton, the report co-author, said he examined economywide job opportunities in two countries: the United States and China. The two are the world's leading greenhouse gas emitters and are generally viewed as being engaged in a clean energy race.

In China, a shift toward a low-carbon economy and service sectors will create a net gain in jobs of almost 10 million. But not all will be low-carbon jobs, notes the report. It does not state the economywide impact in the United States. The White House estimates that 700,000 new clean energy jobs would be created from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by 2012.

But overall, a culture of innovation is necessary to promote clean energy, said Pendleton. The report recommends a clear government policy that will ensure national infrastructure, train workers and boost jobs. It also calls for governments to encourage financing in clean energy.

"We need to support and incentivize clean energy," said Pendleton.