Remember during the 2016 Republican Presidential debates when Marco Rubio said that it didn’t matter whether climate change was man-made; he would not sacrifice American jobs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Well, the 2016 annual review by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that the number of jobs in the solar industry alone has now surpassed the number of jobs in the oil and gas extraction business. In addition, well over half of the jobs were in the installation sector, where relatively small businesses can compete, and where jobs cannot be off-shored.
And, it’s not just in the United States. The report also states:
- IRENA estimates that global renewable energy employment increased by 5% in 2015 to reach 8.1 million. An additional 1.3 million people are employed in large hydropower.
- While the growth in jobs slowed down compared to previous years, the total number of jobs in renewables worldwide continued to rise, in stark contrast with depressed labour markets in the broader energy sector.
- Countries with the highest number of renewable energy jobs were China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany. Jobs continued to shift towards Asia and the share of the continent in global employment increased to 60%.
- Solar PV was the largest renewable energy employer with 2.8 million jobs worldwide, an 11% increase over 2014. Solar PV employment grew in Japan and the United States, stabilised in China, and continued decreasing in the European Union.
- Wind power witnessed a record growth year. Strong installation rates in China, the United States and Germany resulted in a 5% increase in global employment, to reach 1.1 million jobs.