India's journey towards sustainable development has seen significant evolution in the realm of a green economy and green jobs. A green economy refers to economic activities that focus on the well-being of humans without causing any harm to the environment. Such an approach allows a sustainable path of growth while avoiding the destructive processes usually associated with development. Fortunately, economic development is no longer the sworn enemy of environmental protection. In fact, both sectors are growing in a sustainable manner.
The green job sector aims to convert activities involved with protecting the environment into full-time jobs. Such jobs are primarily concerned with the sustainability and conservation of the earth. They centre around activities that aim to improve raw material and energy efficiency, reduce waste, cap greenhouse gas emissions, restore ecosystems and produce goods and services that directly or indirectly benefit the environment.
In recent years, India has been very supportive of green growth and the government is earnestly working towards boosting sustainable economic development by reducing India’s carbon footprint and migrating to renewable energy sources. India’s 2023 Union Budget is an embodiment of India’s commitment to green growth and has led to greater investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable transportation, among other sectors. Certain well-known initiatives implemented by the Indian government include the National Solar Mission, the National Green Hydrogen Mission and the Energy Conservation Building Code. With such an emphasis on environmental conservation and renewable energy, the job landscape in India is bound to transform.
A World Economic Forum report states that by leveraging green growth, India can add $1 trillion to the nation’s GDP by 2030 and the number could even shoot up to $15 trillion by 2070. One of the key areas of growth is the renewable energy sector. As investments in the sector increase, more employment opportunities are being created. In fact, as per January 2023 reports, there has been an annual increase of 81 per cent in the availability of green jobs in the country.
The demand is more pronounced in urban India, with Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore seeing the sharpest growth. Quite understandably, this trend can be explained by the fact that urbanisation is making it imperative to address air quality, land degradation, waste management and clean transportation.
In 2015, the Indian government launched The Skill Council for Green Jobs in an effort to help manufacturers and other service providers in green businesses promote the significance and potential of green jobs in the country. The council has been actively generating awareness about the critical need to minimise pollution and limit greenhouse gas emissions. It plans to educate and certify over a million learners by 2025 to make them ready to run the green economy. Since learners must have able trainers, the council plans to train 1,490 teachers and set up 60 accredited training organisations during the same period.
Here is a look at some of the areas expected to create green job opportunities:
Achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, produce five million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum of green hydrogen by 2030, generate 50 per cent of the total electric energy from renewables by 2030 and bring down the nation’s carbon intensity by 45 per cent—these are the ambitious targets set by the Indian government. The push to achieve these targets has led to a surge in opportunities for engineers, technicians and project managers. Individuals with knowledge of corporate social responsibility and sustainability are particularly in high demand too.
Solar and wind energy projects have gained momentum, creating a demand for skilled professionals in solar panel installation, maintenance and design, as well as in wind turbine technology. Geothermal power generation is making a dent too. India expects to generate about 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030, with about 280 GW from solar sources. Consequently, the solar power sector is expected to create the highest number of green jobs.
India has a vision of launching 102 million electric vehicles (EVs) on Indian roads by 2030 and to realise this vision, the sector is expected to create around 10 million jobs. The adoption of EVs is expected to reduce air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels while creating a demand for skilled workers in this field. As per industry reports, hiring in the segment has already increased by 30 per cent over the last two years. The sector is creating jobs in designing, manufacturing, testing, research and development, charging infrastructure, battery technology, sales and management.
Energy efficiency and conservation have become critical priorities of a green economy. To achieve these goals, the government has introduced several initiatives to encourage the use of energy-efficient appliances and buildings. In fact, green building initiatives are on the rise. The growth of these initiatives is driving the demand for professionals who can help decrease energy consumption and carbon emissions, such as experts in energy auditing, building design, sustainable architecture, eco-friendly construction materials and energy-efficient design principles.
In agriculture, sustainable farming practices and organic farming methods are gaining popularity. This shift towards eco-friendly agriculture has opened up avenues for jobs in organic farming, permaculture and agroecology. Additionally, there is a growing need for professionals who can promote and implement sustainable water management practices in agriculture.
The waste management sector is also witnessing a shift towards more sustainable practices. Recycling and waste-to-energy initiatives are creating job opportunities for waste management professionals, environmental engineers and researchers focussed on developing innovative solutions for waste reduction.
The government and related organisations are aware that achieving India’s green economy target requires a skilled workforce. And right now, the demand for skills is far outpacing availability. The government, involved businesses and academic institutions must continue to collaborate and design appropriate training programmes and certifications. There is a need to upskill and reskill, train entry-level individuals, ensure fair and safe working conditions, boost diversity and inclusion and also support entrepreneurship.
In fact, the drive to boost the green economy is a two-pronged opportunity. On one hand, it is an opportunity to create an Indian talent pool that could help India and other countries achieve their green economy targets; and, on the other hand, it is an opportunity to help the workforce in traditional industries make a smooth transition as their industries make a shift to green practices.
The government has introduced several initiatives to keep things moving in the right direction.
There is still a long way to go before India is ready to meet its green economy targets.
Overall, the future of green jobs in India looks promising. The government’s focus, initiatives and policies have gradually built a favourable and inviting business landscape for investment in green technologies. The creation and growth of green jobs in such an environment is a natural effect. The youth are sure to aspire to build a green career.
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