Climate Change as a Driver for Green Jobs and Innovation

Climate Change as a Driver for Green Jobs and Innovation

Solar panel installation -- CC licensed by Flickr user OregonDOT

As my time in Copenhagen attending the COP15 proceedings comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on some of the positive outcomes resulting from the world’s focus on global warming.

Throughout these last two weeks it is clear that there is a tremendous amount of innovation happening as business -- both alone and in concert with governments and NGOs -- develops new technology and pioneers solutions moving us closer to a low carbon economy. Climate change innovation is a powerful engine for economic growth, with the potential to create new industry opportunities and most importantly, jobs.

Governments and businesses around the world are making investments in renewable energy, technologies to address pollution created by fossil fuels and training to develop a workforce able to fulfill so-called ‘green jobs.’

In the United States there is also a tremendous amount of activity on the state and municipal level. Yesterday, mayors from around the world joined together during the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors to discuss how cities and towns, which according to the International Energy Agency consume two-thirds of the world’s total primary energy, can actively reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.  Within the U.S. and worldwide, helping develop and implement solutions for a low carbon future will also help create jobs and stimulate the global economy.
Much can be learned by sharing innovations and best practices from around the world.

In a recent report the state of Michigan revealed that it imports 90 percent of its energy, at an annual cost of $18 billion. According to the research, wind power could generate anywhere from 28 to 32 percent of Michigan’s total energy. There is a significant opportunity to leverage the state’s manufacturing legacy to reduce dependence on fossil fuel and create much-needed jobs.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report further emphasizes the importance of concerted efforts from all countries on all fronts including energy efficiency, greater use of nuclear and renewable and in the future, the deployment of carbon capture and storage.

It is clear that collaborative actions need to be taken as we move forward. As we leave Copenhagen, it is my hope that our time here in Copenhagen will further catalyze new innovations that mitigate climate change -- and that we invest in the workforce and policies necessary to make that innovation a reality.

Helle Bank Jorgensen is a partner and sustainability and climate change leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S.

Click here for full coverage of COP15 from the GreenBiz.com and ClimateBiz.com teams, including posts from Copenhagen by Executive Editor Joel Makower and Senior Contributor Marc Gunther, and from dozens of guest contributors from the business world.

Image CC licensed by Flicker user OregonDOT.