According to a new report out today by the Worldwatch Institute, a transition to renewable energy sources promises significant global job gains at a time when the coal industry has been hemorrhaging jobs for years.
In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production.
An estimated 2.3 million people worldwide currently work either directly in renewables or indirectly in supplier industries. The solar thermal industry employs at least 624,000 people, the wind power industry 300,000, and the solar PV industry 170,000. More than 1 million people work in the biomass and biofuels sector, while small-scale hydropower employs 39,000 individuals and geothermal employs 25,000.
These figures are expected to swell substantially as private investment and government support for alternative energy sources grow.
In reaction to the report, Naib on the Sietch blog writes:
"In the 80’s 90’s and now in the 00’s American industry has for the most part been content to let these new jobs go to others. We stubbornly plod along thinking that we can keep doing things “our” way while Europe and Asia retool for the next century. The next industry up for gutting is the coal industry."
Will the US finally wake up and smell the opportunity of a cleaner energy sector?