June 1 News: Green Economy Could Create Up To 60 Million Jobs Worldwide In Two Decades

A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post other links below.

A greener economy could create between 15 million to 60 million jobs worldwide over the next two decades, according to a report from a United Nations panel. If nations pushed green energy, job creation would outnumber jobs lost in fossil fuel industries that do not adapt, with net gains of 0.5 percent to 2 percent in net total employment [Guardian]:

Achim Steiner, executive director of Unep [United Nations Environment Programme], said: “The findings underline that [the green economy] can include millions more people in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering improved livelihoods for this and future generations. It is a positive message of opportunity in a troubled world of challenges.”

As well as generating net new gains in the number of jobs, the switch to a green economy could help to lift millions of people out of poverty.

In the US, there are now about three million “green jobs”, in sectors such as wind power and energy efficiency, the study found. In the UK, the number is close to one million and has been one of the few areas of the economy that has been creating jobs. There are about 500,000 people working in green jobs in Spain. In the developing world, too, the number is growing rapidly — about 7% of people employed in Brazil, amounting to three million people, are now in the green economy.

Chinese officials promised Friday to play a positive role in this month’s U.N. environment summit but stressed the needs of their country’s poor, apparently trying to dampen hopes for major concessions. The comments added to signs that the June 20–22 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, might face political obstacles to any significant agreements. President Barack Obama, in the midst of a re-election campaign, and European leaders have withdrawn from the meeting. [AP]

Institutional investors and environmental advocates on Thursday urged companies to disclose their risks from the impact of climate change, two years after the Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidelines for firms to do just that. While the SEC guidelines do not force publicly traded corporations to assess such climate-related events as severe storms, droughts, floods and heat waves, some companies have done so anyway. But those disclosures have not been particularly useful, according to Maryland State Treasurer Nancy Kopp. [Reuters]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter late last year raising concerns that the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline might require more stringent permitting than planned by the Army Corp of Engineers, according to a report from the Associated Press. [NPR]

Mitt Romney’s Solyndra swipes may prove difficult to pull off cleanly. For one, Romney used to be a proponent of government funding of clean energy technologies. His 2008 energy policy platform called for a “dramatic increase” in “federal spending on research, development, and demonstration projects that hold promise for diversifying our energy supply.” Among those projects were “bringing clean energy technology to market through commercialization of large-scale renewables.” [Huffington Post]

The creators of Leafully, Nathan Jhaveri and Tim Edgar seem to think so, and so does the U.S. Department of Energy. The Seattle start up won the federal agency’s “Apps for Energy” contest this week with their app. The application monitors home energy use by accessing information from a user’s utility provider. [Discovery News]