China's Green Jobs Counted For First Time

China’s massive and fast-growing economy could create millions of green jobs over the next eight years, according to a Worldwatch Institute report. The study is the most thorough effort to date to explore China’s green jobs potential.

An analysis of China’s energy, transportation, and forestry sectors shows they could provide at least 4.5 million green jobs just in 2020, with millions more in later years.

"Green Economy and Green Jobs in China: Current Status and Potentials for 2020," was co-authored by researchers from Worldwatch’s Beijing partner, the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Between 2011-2020, China could create: 

  • 6,680 direct solar PV jobs a year 
  • 34,000 jobs a year in wind, including both power generation and manufacturing. 40,000 direct jobs have been created each year between 2006-2010.
  • 16.7 million of the 220 million vehicles it adds each year will be hybrid or electric, produced domestically.
  • 230,000 jobs a year in high-speed rail
  • 437,000 jobs a year in Beijing’s urban rail system alone
  • 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs a year in forestry

China has a long way to go, however, in tracking its economy so that jobs can be accurately counted. 

National and regional governments use inconsistent methods to track industries, and probably don’t track many smaller businesses that likely have a significant impact on job creation. The lack of industry trade organizations and the difficulty in separating out "green" sub-sectors from larger, fast-growing industries, are also problems.

"Unlike in the United States, which has long had well-established tools and institutions to monitor employment growth, China’s means of tracking job creation by industry have a long way to grow," says Worldwatch China Program Manager Haibing Ma. "Our report shows enormous potential for green job creation in China, but more importantly it shows a clear need to develop more robust and accurate tools for tracking employment trends. This capacity building is particularly important given China’s dominant role in the global green economy."

In some cases, inefficient implementation has led to unintended economic or environmental costs. Roughly one-third of China’s installed wind capacity hasn’t been connected to the grid, for example.

Earlier this month the Brookings Institution released a comprehensive report finding that 2.7 million people work in the green economy in the US.

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