Last changed: 08/25/2010
There is a longstanding tradition of Federal Environment Agency publications on the estimation of employment impacts. New estimates have been issued every four years since 1990 in studies which record the ”gross employment effects” of environmental protection; that is, the manpower which produces goods for the environmental protection sector (e.g. diesel soot filters), provides services (e.g. energy-savings consulting) or is otherwise involved directly with jobs in environmental protection such as within environmental agencies or nature conservation associations.
Evaluation of current data on employment in the area of environmental protection demonstrates that there were nearly 1.8 million people employed in this sector in 2006, a figure that represents 4.5 percent of the active labour force, and which had still been at 3.8 percent two years prior to that. The significance of environmental protection for the labour market has thus increased considerably (see Fig. and Table „Erwerbstätige im Umweltschutz” in German). It illustrates that environmental protection is a significant and stabilising factor in the German labour market (Background paper „Beschäftigung im Umweltschutz 2006” in German)
Waste disposal, water conservation, noise abatement and air quality control are the classic fields of activity in which jobs are created when companies and the federal, regional and local authorities invest in environmental protection. The production of specialised goods needed to operate and service environmental protection installations also creates jobs. Employment levels in 2006 in the segment capital expenditure and material expenses in classic environmental protection envolved a total of 350,000 employees in 2006. The far larger share though is in personnel costs and environment-oriented services, with some 1.1 mn jobs—nearly two thirds of all jobs in the environmental protection sector. Roughly 50,000 jobs are in the area of export of environmental protection goods, and 235,600 are in renewable energies (see Fig. and Table „Erwerbstätige im Umweltschutz” in German).
The estimated figure of nearly 1.8 million people for 2006 represents the minimum level of real employment in the environmental protection sector in Germany. In fact, the number of people working in the field is higher, for various areas including eco-tourism, the ecologically oriented insurance industry, and product-integrated environmental protection are difficult to impossible to account for. This owes to a continued lack of available data.
The curve slopes upward: an estimated 290,000 more employed in environmental protection currently than last year (see Fig. and Table „Erwerbstätige im Umweltschutz” (in German)). It is a development marked by trends working in opposite direction. New jobs are being created, in particular in the area of renewable energies, as a result of booming export of environmental protection goods, and in the area of environment-related services. In contrast, investment and expenditures in the classic areas of waste, waters, noise, and air have stagnated recently – the 22,000 additional jobs indicated in the estimate owing to investments can be traced largely to improved estimation technique, for there were already more people employed in the environmental protection industry in 2004 than assumed at the time.
Exports of goods and services for environmental protection are creating more and more jobs domestically. As an international market leader Germany has benefited from growing demand from abroad for years. The estimated figure of 49,000 jobs owing to export for 2006, merely hints at this fact. Since integrated environmental protection is not sufficiently accounted for, it is assumed that job creation as a result of exports in environmental protection are significantly greater.
Environment-oriented services are rendered to all sectors of the German economy. They are thus not confined to the so-called services sector but are extending increasingly to sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry (see Fig. „Erwerbstätige in umweltorientierten Dienstleistungen”). At a figure of more than 1.1 mn employed in 2006 nearly two thirds of all jobs in environmental protection are environment-oriented services. There was a slight decline in environment-related services in the processing and building industries, whereas most of the other sectors of the economy witnessed a boost in employment.
The use of renewable energies has grown significantly in recent years, and it is also reflected in levels of employment, which grew easily by 55 % within three years—from 160,500 employed in the sector in 2004, to 249,300 in 2007 (see Table „Beschäftigte durch Nutzung Erneuerbarer Energien” in German). Most recent estimates claim that the number employed in this sector in 2008 in German had grown to about 278,000.
With the exception of hydropower all other renewable energy sectors contributed to this economic growth. By far the largest share is now due to biomass, which also includes biofuels and biomass heating fuels. The largest growth rates were in solar and geothermal energy, although these segments are at a relatively low level.
Renewable energies -a cornerstone of climate protection- are expected to make more significant gains in the coming years. The climate protection programme adopted at the Cabinet meeting in Meseberg in August 2007 by the Federal Government laid the groundwork for this. The programme aims to increase the share of renewable energies used in gross electricity consumption from 25 to 30% by 2020. That share was at 14.2% in 2007.