Renewable Energy at the Heart of ‘Recovering Better’ Post-Covid
Projects that stimulate economic growth while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions will deliver higher returns on government spending, in the short term and in the longer term, compared to conventional stimulus spending.
This is according to a new study by a team of leading economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern, published by the University of Oxford Smith School in May 2020. Their findings are based on an assessment of 700 stimulus measures worldwide since the 2008 financial crash.
It’s worth remembering that renewables are already a huge job creator.
Globally, 11 million people were employed by the renewable energy sector in 2018, according to IRENA. Renewables already create more new jobs than the fossil fuel industry in countries like the US – clean energy jobs (3.26 million) outnumbered fossil fuel jobs (1.17 million), growing by 3.5% and adding 110 000 new jobs in 2018.
In the US, a $1 million investment creates approximately 8 full time jobs in energy efficiency, nearly 3 times the jobs created in the fossil fuel sector, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Research by the University of Massachusetts, found that each $ 1 million investment creates 16.7 jobs in clean energy compared to 5.3 jobs created with the same spent in the fossil sector.
In China, it was estimated that for every 1% increase in the share of solar PV generation a 0.68% increase in total employment was predicted, larger than any other power generation technology, according to a 2011 study looking at the 2010 economic parameters.
100 million energy sector jobs can be expected by 2050, nearly doubling from 58 million in 2017, under IRENAs “Transforming Energy Scenario (TES)”. The TES scenario outlines IRENAs energy transformation pathway based largely on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, that can deliver the deep emissions cut needed to keep temperature rise to “well below 2°C” in line with the Paris Agreement. According to the scenario by 2050 renewables will employ more people than fossil fuel and nuclear sectors in every region, accounting for as much as 85% of all energy Jobs in North America, the EU, Latin America, East Asia and the Carribean, and about 60% for Sub-Saharan Africa.
42 million new renewable jobs will be created and energy efficiency could employ 21 million, power grids and flexibility another 14.5 million. Most jobs will be in manufacturing, installing, operating and maintaining renewable energy systems, highest in solar energy, followed by bioenergy and wind energy. The highest proportion of these jobs will be in East Asia (15%). The new jobs in energy efficiency will mostly be concentrated in North America (45%) and in Europe (29%).
Simply put, ‘green stimulus’ efforts provide a better alternative by generating clean jobs and sustainable growth.