Green recovery

The great divide in green jobs

15/03/2023 PNG

Despite the fundamental changes the green transition entails for labour markets, there is not yet a universally accepted definition of what a green job is. According to a task-based approach, green-task jobs have a significant share of tasks that directly help improve environmental sustainability or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Around 18% of workers in the OECD have jobs that fit this definition, but the share of green-task jobs differs across regions, ranging from 7% to more than 35%.

Some regions, including many capital regions, have a high and increasing share of green-task jobs and a low share of “polluting” jobs at risk of disappearing. In other regions, a high share of polluting and green-task jobs coincide, which creates space for job transitions. The regions with a high concentration of polluting jobs and few green jobs require another set of policy strategies to both upskill and support these workers.

Without policy action, the green transition may have other significant distributional effects. Green-task jobs tend to offer up to 20% higher pay, and so far, high-skilled and educated workers have predominantly captured the green jobs that have emerged, while people in lower-skilled jobs are at higher risk of displacement.

Alongside national governments, local actors will play an important role in managing the green, and just, transition. With both the challenges and opportunities of the green transition being place-specific, initiatives tailored to local realities are needed.

See also: Job Creation and Local Economic Development 2023: Bridging the Great Green Divide