New Delhi: If 40% of India’s electricity comes from renewables by 2030 (from 7.5% in February 2018), the country could add about 3 million new jobs, according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), an arm of the United Nations.

This will “more than offset” the 259,000 jobs that could be lost--8.6% of the new 3 million jobs--by the scaling down of carbon-intensive and resource-intensive industries, said the report that analysed how climate-change mitigation could affect jobs in India and globally.

The Indian renewable energy sector--it accounted for about 20% of installed capacity by May 2018 and 7.5% of total electricity generation in February 2018--employed 432,000 people in 2017, an increase of 16% over 2016, IndiaSpend reported on July 5, 2018.

Renewables will have most new jobs

“The net increase of approximately 2.8 million jobs will be the result of the adoption of sustainable practices, including changes in the energy mix, the projected growth in the use of electric vehicles, and increases in energy efficiency in existing and future buildings,” the report said.

The overall net jobs benefit in India comes with sectoral differences. All the sectors in the economy, except the mining industry, will see more employment by 2030. Renewables will see 1.5 million new jobs, followed by 466,200 jobs in the construction sector and 285,200 in the services industry, the report said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has committed to the Paris Climate Agreement 2015 to install 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022. This is enough to power 100 million bulbs (of 100 watt each) for an hour.

India has installed 69 GW of cumulative renewable power capacity as of May 2018. The country will now have to add nearly 1.92 GW every month--what it has every three months since May 2014--to meet its target of 175 GW by the end of December 2022, we reported in July.

“The findings of our report underline that jobs rely heavily on a healthy environment and the services that it provides,” Deborah Greenfield, ILO deputy director-general, said.

The “green economy” can enable millions to overcome poverty, and deliver improved livelihoods for the present and future generations, she said.

In India, public employment programmes, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), will prove to be important policy tools in reallocating workers, since they combine economic, social and environmental objectives in support of climate-change mitigation, the report said.

Almost 60% of the work hours provided through the MGNREGA programme in 2012 involved water conservation and 12% were related to the provision of irrigation facilities, the report said, quoting the ministry of rural development.

Natural disasters made worse by humans causing job losses

Over 15 years to 2015, natural disasters caused or exacerbated by human activities resulted in an average loss of 5.7 working life-years (part of a person’s life that they spent on a job) per person in India every year, the study noted.

Heat stress would be common in the future, reducing the number of working hours of the workforce, the report said.

Agricultural workers would be the worst affected, accounting for around 64% of hours lost due to heat stress in India in 2030 because their work is physical and a large number are engaged in agriculture in areas most affected by future heat stress.

Estimates, combining a global temperature rise of 1.5°C by the end of the 21st century and labour force trends, suggest that, by 2030, the percentage of total hours of work lost will rise to 5.3%, a productivity loss equivalent to 30.8 million full-time jobs, the report said.

(Tripathi is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

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