NEW DELHI: With 35 million jobs worldwide, clean energy has exceeded the number of jobs available in the traditional fossil fuel sector (32 million) for the first time in 2021, as indicated by a global report from the International Energy Agency.
Released on Wednesday, the World Energy Employment 2023 report shows that clean energy jobs are steadily maintaining the lead and are also growing at more than 3.6 times the rate of fossil fuel jobs.
Clean energy sectors added 4.7 million jobs globally, while fossil fuel jobs recovered more slowly after layoffs in 2020 and remain around 1.3 million below pre-pandemic employment levels, the report said. However, new opportunities in clean energy outweigh job losses in fossil fuels.
In India, fossil fuel employment rose above pre-pandemic levels of 2019. On the other hand, the country also saw the fourth-highest number of new clean energy jobs being generated.
“India and West Asia were the only major regions to see growth in both clean energy and fossil fuel employment in the 2019-22 period,” the report stressed.
Overall, India has the third-highest number of workers in the energy space, after China and Asia-Pacific regions.
China witnessed both the largest gains in clean energy jobs from 2019-22 and the biggest drop in fossil fuel employment, reflecting the sheer size of its energy sector.
More than half of the job growth in clean energy since 2019 is attributable to just five sectors — solar photovoltaic (PV) cell, wind, electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing, heat pump, and critical mineral mining. These five sectors employ around 9 million workers and each has seen more than a 6 per cent annual growth.
“Solar PV is the largest of these sectors, at around 4 million jobs, while manufacturing of EVs and their batteries was the largest source of growth, adding globally well over 1 million jobs since 2019. Many of the new jobs are in construction and manufacturing, which represent over half of energy jobs today, and grew by 2.6 million jobs since 2019,” the report said.
The report pointed out that global employment in the coal industry continues to contract, with the total number of jobs down to 6.2 million jobs in 2022.
China (51 per cent), India (27 per cent), and Indonesia together account for nearly 85 per cent of all coal supply jobs worldwide in 2022.
Coal mining in these three countries is less mechanised than in advanced economies. The report showed China and India require around 10 times more workers per tonne of coal produced than Australia or the US.
As labour productivity inevitably rises, Beijing and New Delhi would have to deal with the fallout of the number of jobs going down, the report said.
The decline of coal supply employment in China slowed in 2022. However, employment continues to climb slowly in India, “with labour productivity gains partially offsetting rising demand as the sector increasingly opens to private sector players”.
The report said increased coal production in advanced economies during the energy crisis did not translate into more jobs, though it did momentarily slow the fall in coal employment.
Source: Business Standard