(3BL Media/Justmeans) - A lot of people have said that switching from fossil fuels to renewables would hurt the economy. They said it would raise energy prices and cost jobs. So far, those fears have mostly gone unfounded. Of course, there have been job losses in sectors directly related to fossil fuel production. Coal producing regions have been particularly hard hit, though even in those areas, change can mean opportunity.
At the same time, job growth in renewable energy has been robust. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 8.1 million people were working in the renewable energy sector at the end of last year. That’s an increase of 5% over the previous year. Those numbers do not include the estimated 1.3 million people working in large-scale hydropower, which is not always counted among renewables. To put that in perspective, there are roughly 8 million people in the US working in the financial sector.
The increase stands in marked contrast to the oil and gas sector which has seen job losses. In the US, renewable jobs grew by 6% while oil and gas employment dropped by 18%. China, the world’s largest economy, now employs 3.5 million in renewables as opposed to 2.6 million in oil and gas.