Green Jobs VS Brown Jobs: How They Are Affecting the Climate

Brown jobs refer to the pollution of our economy and world, and we expect a transition to green jobs within a green and circular economy. Green jobs are productions and services which minimize environmental threats such as water contamination, air pollution, and damage to the soil.

Our world, especially developed countries, is on its way to a transition from a linear economy to a circular economy. This shift aims to prevent the depletion of natural resources, promote and apply sustainable production and consumption, and create new jobs to enhance these missions as green jobs. The three main principles of sustainable economic development are balancing social, economic, and environmental dimensions.


Green Jobs

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Oleksii Sidorov/Shutterstock

The International Labor Organization and the United Nations Environment Program created the green jobs concept. It aims to mitigate impacts caused by climate change on employment and support government and employers in promoting sustainable and environmentally green jobs. This initiative’s goals are: 1) promote awareness and dialogue, 2) identify knowledge gaps and respond to them, 3) facilitate the transition to a circular economy, 4) promote policies and measures to achieve green jobs, and 5) to increase employment and reduce poverty within climate mitigation and adaption programs.

In recent years, green jobs policies have become more prominent to lead the labor market aligned with the green economy where sustainability is the main objective of tackling climate change. Green jobs are about new employment opportunities that contribute to preserving and restoring the environment by applying them to old sectors such as manufacturing and construction or in emerging sectors such as renewable energy, waste management, and advanced technology. Green jobs play a significant role in youth employment, allowing them to think, design, develop, and implement their entrepreneurship ideas into a green startup.

Within the green jobs, there are producers of technology, goods, and services that strive to minimize pollution and the use of natural resources. Protecting the environment and following sustainable resource management are prime production objectives within green jobs creation and products and services in the big picture. The green jobs concept is new and is developing as time passes. Yet, one thing is clear: these kinds of jobs welcome new products, services, or technology to be more efficient in terms of energy and material consumption, less CO2 emissions, and reduced harm to the environment.

It is growing rapidly in European Union. According to Eurostat, employment in the EU increased from 2.9 million full-time jobs in 2000 to 4.3 million full time in 2012. During this time, the environmental economy in the EU was valued from €671 billion in 2000 to €942 billion in 2012. Overall, green jobs are beneficial for youth, economic growth, and employment.


Brown Jobs

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Global carbon emissions are at their peak level, and transforming pollutant sectors such as fossil fuels to renewable energy or waste to recyclable industries can benefit the environment. Every shift comes with costs, and pollutant sectors are mostly filled with so-called brown jobs, and shifting to green jobs means losing brown jobs. Policymakers should consider fiscal and regulatory policies when transitioning from traditional employment to sustainable ones.

Studies show that from a $1,000,000 investment, 2.65 full-time equivalent brown jobs are created, while with the same amount, it is possible to create 7.49 – 7.72 green jobs in the renewable energy sector. Thus each $1,000,000 shift from brown energy to green energy will create a net increase of five jobs.

Brown jobs are the set of positions and activities that lead to pollution of water, land, and air, loss of biodiversity, exhaustion of natural resources like water, fish, arable land, fossil fuel extraction, and process. These practices have already proved that environmental and health costs outweigh the gains from the economic activity such as climate change disasters in various types such as flood, wildfire, famine, drought, and heatwaves. In the medium and long term, it is projected that disruption caused by climate change will intensify significantly in developing countries if we do not shift to a green and circular economy. There are 1.3 billion people, making up over 40% of the global workforce, whose lives are in threat of poverty due to low earnings in a linear economy. And there are 190 million unemployed, followed by tens of million young job seekers that cannot find a decent job in the labor market.


Food for Thought

Green Jobs are a must for a sustainable economy, and it plays a vital role in reducing the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors. Green jobs can be identified and developed in agriculture, industry, service, administration, transportation, and energy. Through knowledge sharing and cooperation, it needs realistic, transparent, and accountable policies and strategies on national and international levels to see an equal developed world. Renewable energy, waste management, 3D printing in construction, data science, and other areas are emerging as green jobs. Human capital requires further education and training to adopt a new set of skills.


Make sure to check out the webinar held by the author of this article, Sayed Ahmad Fahim Masoumi, where he explains in depth the meaning and difference between green jobs and brown jobs:


Photo: ASTA Concept/Shutterstock


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