According to the report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the number of renewable energy jobs worldwide increased to 12 million last year, up from 11.5 million in 2019.
The eighth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2021 was released by the IRENA in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The report confirms that COVID-19 caused delays and supply chain disruptions, with impacts on jobs varying by country and end-use, and among segments of the value chain. While solar and wind occupations continued to lead global employment growth in the renewable energy sector, with 4 million and 1.25 million jobs respectively, employment in liquid biofuels plummeted as demand for transportation fuels fell. Off-grid solar lighting sales suffered, but companies were able to limit job losses.
According to the report, China commanded a 39 percent share of renewable energy jobs worldwide in 2020, followed by Brazil, India, the United States, and members of the European Union.
“Renewable energy’s ability to create jobs and meet climate goals is beyond doubt. With COP26 in front of us, governments must raise their ambition to reach net zero. The only path forward is to increase investments in a just and inclusive transition, reaping the full socio-economic benefits along the way,” said Mr. Francesco La Camera, Director-General at IRENA.
The report noted that the promise for renewable energy jobs will be realized only if bold policies to drive the energy transition in the next decades are implemented. In addition to deployment, enabling, and integrating policies for the sector itself, there is a need to overcome structural barriers in the wider economy and minimize potential misalignments between job losses and gains during the transition.
Mr. Guy Ryder Director-General of ILO commented, “The potential for renewable energy to generate decent work is a clear indication that we do not have to choose between environmental sustainability on the one hand and employment creation on the other. The two can go hand-in-hand.”
The report found that more jobs will be gained by the energy transition than lost. An ILO global sustainability scenario to 2030 estimates that the 24 million to 25 million new jobs will far surpass losses of between six and seven million jobs. The renewable energy sector will employ 43 million people by 2050, according to IRENA’s World Energy Transition Outlook.