Cities have a role to play in green job creation

Action on climate change could yield 1.8 million green jobs.

According to research from C40 Cities, a global network of mayors taking action to confront the climate crisis, ambitious urban climate action could create and support more than 1.8 million green jobs in South Africa by 2030.

Of those jobs, nearly 1.1 million would be across the buildings, power and sustainable transport sectors, and almost 674,000 of those jobs can be generated and supported locally within cities.
According to the report, investing in adaptation and nature-based solutions to tackle extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, can produce an additional 705,000 sustainable jobs across the country.

The survey further revealed that two-thirds of South Africans strongly support using national government funds to invest in green jobs in cities.

The report identified improving the energy efficiency of existing and new homes, schools and workplaces as having the most significant job-creation opportunity. This has the potential to create more than 900,000 jobs, equivalent to 78 percent of the jobs created from climate action in the buildings, energy, and transport sectors.

Dr Mpho Phalatse, executive mayor of Johannesburg and C40 vice-chair, said that, “Cities are at the forefront of the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Cities are also at the forefront of the climate emergency.”

She added that green jobs can help to alleviate poverty while helping to build clean, healthy, sustainable and resilient communities.

The survey shows workforce development, training and just transition policies are necessary to guarantee that new jobs are truly inclusive and accessible to those who need them the most, including women, youth and previously disadvantaged individuals. For example, female representation in future jobs is estimated at 32 percent, showing there is an opportunity to bolster equity as these jobs are created.

The report also indicates that significant investment from public and private sources is needed for cities to realise their full potential in terms of job creation, emissions reduction and building resilience, and that the gains from this investment will far outweigh the cost.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda of Durban said, “The concept of green jobs is not only about saving the environment. This concept goes hand in hand in supporting my city’s vision for social justice by benefiting disadvantaged communities, women and the youth.” He added that it is critical that green jobs are designed to offer secure employment, safe working conditions and fair remuneration with the end goal to support the local economy, improve infrastructure and service delivery and enhance the quality of life for all residents.