Jobs grow in renewables sector despite pandemic

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The number of jobs in renewable energy worldwide increased in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with the growing industry holding up better than fossil fuels, international agencies revealed.

In an annual report on clean energy employment, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said there were 12 million jobs in renewable energy and its supply chains last year. That was a rise from 11.5 million jobs in 2019.

“The year 2020 demonstrated that not even a global pandemic can slow the advance of renewable energy,” wrote IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera in a foreword.

The COVID-19 crisis, together with the challenges of global warming, “reinforce the need for a just and inclusive transition toward a clean, reliable energy supply and sustainable, healthy, climate-friendly jobs,” he added.

Achieving a fair shift from coal, oil, and gas to solar, wind, bioenergy and hydropower will require efforts to train workers in new skills and build local supply chains, the report said.
Social protection will also be needed for those who lose jobs in high-carbon activities like coal mining, it added.

Lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic did disrupt some parts of the renewables industry in 2020, it noted, including a slight dip in employment in biofuels due to lower transport use.