Job creation is a worldwide green economy wild card. The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Environment Programme sees the green economy as a “net generator of jobs, adequate wages, safe working conditions, job security, reasonable career prospects and workers’ rights.” The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and ILO, agree that actions to mitigate climate change create high quality jobs. But how many people could be employed in Italy thanks to green jobs? The answers could be found in a report that opened the Green Economy General Assembly at the 22nd Ecomondo, the exhibition dedicated to the circular economy and renewable energy.
Drawn up by the Foundation for sustainable development, the study on the economic and employment effects in the next five years, suggested a package of green economy measures. It says that for each euro of public investment another three would arrive from the private sector, with a significant increase in cumulative employment units, equal to 2.2 million. Considering all the resulting downstream activities, this could reach 3.3 million jobs.
Edo Ronchi, president of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, explained that “between seven and eight billion Euro of public investment would be needed annually for the next five years. This would activate 21.4 billion private investments annually and generate 74 billion worth of production value. This would mean on average 440,000 new green jobs annually that, considering the downstream activities, would reach more than 660,000.” He warned that: "In addition to the allocation of resources, regulatory measures would be necessary.
The economic advantages of green investments are many and avoided pollution costs and other environmental impacts
The Green Economy General assembly was presented with ten solutions that would help recovery and new employment. These included the doubling of renewable sources; redevelopment of private and public buildings, the achievement of new European waste recycling targets; a major urban regeneration programme; the doubling of eco-innovation investments, sustainable urban mobility measures and ecological and quality agriculture; the national water system redevelopment; strengthening hydrogeological risk prevention until contaminated site remediation completion.
The sectors with the highest employment coefficient, during the five-year period, are renewable sources with 32% of total employment (about 702,000 direct and indirect jobs). This is followed by organic and quality farming with 18% of employment (about 393 direct jobs), urban regeneration with 12% (about 255,000 jobs), building efficiency with 9% (more than 197,000 jobs), water system requalification with 8% (about 178,000 jobs), remediation of contaminated sites with 5% (about 117,000 jobs). The waste sector completes the picture, focusing on the transition from a linear to a circular economy with 5% of employment, sustainable mobility and eco-innovation both with 2% of employment and hydrogeological risk prevention with 0.7% of employment.
Ronchi said: "There are many economic benefits of green investments. The first concerns the avoided costs of pollution and other environmental impacts. When doubling renewables, after the objectives have been set, it will be necessary to apply incentives on energy tariffs. An energy transition fund could be set up. The problem is setting a target and then acting on the detailed regulations." Regarding waste, Ronchi said that an important aspect concerns the transposition of four new European directives aimed at a stronger circular economy. A sector in which Italy is still first among the five main European countries with 18.5% circularity rate. As for the productivity of resources (measured in Euro of GDP per kg of resources consumed) is in second place.
Urban waste recycling (%) in Europe, 2016
Ronchi said: "There are many fields where we can reduce the use of materials. We need to prolong the use of products and make them easier to repair." He noted that for the different solutions presented we need to think about new professional skills, "we need the right skills and if we think that a third of our young people are unemployed, it will be necessary to invest in training. It will take more time to come up with some innovative professionalism, but this is the right direction.”
In the field of the green economy everything is connected. Ronchi said: “we need to make up for all the delays and understand that green policies require companies to be innovative. Although Italy is the country with the highest number of cars, 613 per thousand inhabitants, we increasingly import vehicles. For each ten new cars registered, we produce about four, France, eight, Germany, 17 and Spain 20. The new ecological vehicles are not doing that well. In the top ten of 2017 sales there aren’t any hybrid vehicles, nor are there any Italian plug-in hybrid or electric cars.
Growth scenario of electric vehicle registrations (BEV) in Italy 2018-2023
Ronchi said: "The problem is waking up because we must prevent the gap on traditional vehicles occurring to new ecological vehicles. In Italian factories only gas vehicles are produced (the gas range – LPG / methane- with 3.16 million vehicles representing 53% of the European gas range), while the number of electric cars is limited to small niche productions. We must start producing and favouring the transition to new production.” Ronchi said that proposals were sent to the government and parliament during the Green economy General Assembly: seven priority programmes which were defined by the Green economy National Council (made up of 66 business organisations).
- Relaunching of renewables and renewal of the energy system
- Circular economy
- Italian company ecological quality promotion
- Sustainable agriculture development
- Urban mobility changes
- Activation of a national urban regeneration programme
- Protection and enhancement of natural assets
“The comments were positive. We now need these measures to make it part of the political agenda.” he concluded.