Circle Economy Foundationnews
Published on: 
June 25, 2024

Green job revolution: How C40 cities are leading the way

Final results released today by C40 Co-Chair and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at London Climate Action Week show a first-of-its-kind analysis of green jobs in our global megacities, demonstrating the positive payoff of investing in climate action at a city level.

The research conducted by C40 and the Circle Economy shows that some of the highest-performing industries include public transport, waste, electricity and construction, where local governments play a key role in supporting regulation, standards, and cooperation with industry. For example, nearly 30% of the jobs in the electricity and transport sectors are currently green, and 25% in the buildings and construction sectors.

The catalyst for this research began in 2022 at the World Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires, when C40 Co-Chair and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, urged C40 Mayors to drive the creation of 50 million good, green jobs by 2030 across the world’s megacities, in partnership with key stakeholders including all levels of government, business and unions for a just transition – protecting livelihoods whilst maximising economic prosperity.

Following this bold announcement, this global analysis estimates that nearly 16 million jobs already support the transition to a green economy across the 74 cities studied. This includes direct and indirect green jobs in cities across Global North and Global South cities.

For example, in London a Skills Centre designed a Rainscreen Cladding Skills Bootcamp with construction employers to improve energy efficiency and building safety, achieving about 96% job conversion, and has introduced new modules with £11.3 million in funding to support green skills for the city’s net zero goal by 2030.

C40 Co-Chair and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m proud that we are on our way toward achieving our goal of 50 million good, green jobs by 2030, with 16 million jobs already supporting the transition to a green economy across 74 cities worldwide.  

“London continues to lead the way when it comes to climate action and our commitment to green jobs proves that the path to prosperity is also the path to sustainability. Together, we can achieve far more than any of us could alone and I look forward to continuing to inspire and drive us forward to a fairer, greener future for everyone.”

In São Paulo, the city is expected to create at least over 10,000 jobs by dramatically expanding its green space to create a series of protected forests and public parks. By the time it is complete, the total area of public green space will be the size of Paris. Thousands of residents will get access to green spaces for the first time and it will also help to reduce flood risk, a climate impact that has severely affected Brazil recently.

Mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes, said: “Brazil has been very badly impacted by climate change this year and we know that delaying climate action only means that more people will suffer. We also know that more jobs can be created through climate action than through business as usual, whilst creating healthier and more sustainable cities and economies. That is why São Paulo, through actions such as Sampa + Rural, is promoting thousands of green jobs. This research shows how there are already more than 400,000 direct and indirect green jobs in the city, and we will continue working to increase that number through innovative and ambitious new programmes and policies.”

In Accra, a municipal waste source separation and compost project involves the community and informal waste sector. Over 850 informal waste collectors, including migrants, are engaged in collecting and separating waste. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions by diverting organic waste from landfills and increases waste collection coverage. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly supports cooperatives, implements a social insurance scheme, and offers capacity-building programs to improve the quality of life and jobs for informal waste workers, ensuring a just transition.

Mayor of Accra, Elizabeth Sackey, said: “This global analysis, which shows the social and economic potential of climate action, is very important for cities in the current context. The city of Accra is committed to addressing climate action and creating local jobs together, and ensuring the working conditions of all workers, including informal workers, are improved.

“This is why, as we have been implementing citywide municipal solid waste separation programs in the past years, and are starting to work on the transport transition, we have been working closely with informal waste sector workers (including migrant workers) and initiated consultations with informal transport workers to ensure their jobs are protected and valued. They play a key role in the green economy and in creating healthier communities and should be engaged in the transition.”

In Vancouver, the Vancouver Green City Action Plan called for doubling the number of green and local food jobs, and for doubling the number of businesses greening their operations, both as part of an adopted plan to see Vancouver become the greenest city in the world by 2020. In total, over 15,000 new green and local food jobs were added to the city over the last ten years, an increase of 87% since 2010. Since 2020, the Green City Action Plan continues to engage residents on a broader environmental plan.

Melina Scholefield, Executive Director of the Vancouver Zero Emissions Innovation Centre, said: “The Vancouver region’s collective efforts on climate change over many decades have built an incredible foundation for our burgeoning clean economy to take shape. In particular, our emphasis on building decarbonisation policy and practice means that we not only are building some of the highest efficiency, healthy, and resilient buildings on the continent, cost-effectively, but we are also driving the creation of green jobs in a well-skilled, innovative sector that is pushing to ever-higher heights. It is validating that this new research provides evidence of how this sector is greening globally and locally within the region and the evident potential that exists to go further.”

C40 Executive Director, Mark Watts, said: “Today’s announcement highlights how city climate action benefits people here and now. With 16 million green jobs already created across 74 cities – and many more to come – mayors are creating opportunities for people across diverse sectors, from home insulation and clean transport to parks and river regeneration projects. Cities are leading by showing how city climate action not only cuts emissions and builds resilience, but also makes people better off.”

These results signal multiple things, firstly, that there is enormous potential for these and other key urban programmes to continue to grow, with the right climate investment and support from national and local governments.

Second, there is a clear indication that green investments are boosting demand for materials and inputs, thus increasing jobs in supplier industries. For example, C40 analysis has shown that green and just recovery scenarios could create, on average, three times more jobs than those created through high-carbon scenarios.

But most importantly mayors are on track to deliver good green jobs for their residents. However, there is still a long way to go to ensure that just transition policies and green jobs creation programmes are implemented to help cities fulfil their leadership potential and ensure that all residents benefit from and are included in the climate transition, with the IPCC confirming these are critical for the success of climate action. These new findings show that cities are leading the way in the creation of good green jobs, by joining forces with youth, unions, and businesses and responding directly to the core concerns of urban residents.

Climate action presents an unprecedented opportunity for a more inclusive economy, as sectors with the greatest potential for transformation e.g. construction and manufacturing offer both high rates of job potential to retain existing workforces and are historically unequally distributed across population groups.  These actions combined with the growing demand for green jobs to support decent working conditions, the supply of a green and diverse labour force, and ramping up workforce development efforts that address shortages will make opportunities accessible to all.

CEO of Circle Economy, Ivonne Bojoh, said: “Cities are hubs of innovation, jobs and skills and so it has been our long-term mission to provide local decision-makers with data on where best they can take climate action. We are thrilled that our collaboration with the C40 cities has allowed us to apply what we have learned from our longstanding circular jobs methodology to measuring green in 74 cities worldwide.

“These results highlight a high concentration of green jobs in the repair sector across all global regions, showing that jobs sustaining and prolonging the lifetime of goods have a key role in promoting good, decent employment in cities. Although the total number of green jobs is impressive, there is still significant potential to create more, especially in the tertiary sectors of the economy that are crucial for cities, such as accommodation, retail, and transportation. We are happy to have collaborated on a set of resources that show how cities can support the growth of green, decent jobs.”

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