Indicator: Employment in environmental protection

A graph shows the employment in environmental protection and their share in the overall employment for 2002 until 2021 – in two-year-steps. The share was 7.1 percent in 2021, whereas it was only 3.7 percent in 2002.Click to enlarge
Employment in environmental protection
Source: Umweltbundesamt Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • In 2021, around 3.2 million people worked in environmental protection. That was 7.1 % of all employees.
  • Of this, over half are environment-related services.
  • Since 2002, employment in environmental protection has risen steadily and environmental protection has established itself as an important factor for the labour market.

Environmental importance

Employment in environmental protection is an important indicator for the relevance of environmental protection for the economy. The creation of jobs isn’t the main objective of environmental protection. Still, environmental policy should be designed as much as possible in a way that also allows for positive effects on the economy and job creation.

The indicator shows how many people in Germany work in environmental protection: either by performing environmental protection tasks as part of their work or because their workplace is in upstream production areas, for example in the production of steel needed for wind turbines. In addition to the development of the absolute number of employees, the share of environmental protection employees in total employment is also important. This shows whether the importance of environmental protection for the labour market as a whole is increasing or decreasing.


Assessing the development

3.2 million people in Germany work for environmental protection. Approximately 58 % of these jobs are accounted for by environmentally oriented services. Examples are jobs in planning offices, with environmental protection authorities, in environmental education or at Car-Sharing companies. 11 % is accounted for by renewable energies and 18 % can be attributed to energy-efficient building refurbishment.

In recent years, employment in environmental protection has risen steadily, from 2002 to 2019 it about doubled. The strong increase of almost 450,000 employees from 2008 to 2010 is mainly due to the better recording of employment in the field of energy-efficient building refurbishment and therefore also is due to methodological changes. In the past, the effects on employment were underestimated in this area.

With a share of 7.1 %, environmental protection is an important factor for the labour market in Germany. Its share of total employment has risen steadily since 2002. This means that employment in environmental protection has been increasing at an above-average rate for years.



The number of employees working in the field of environmental protection can’t be taken from a statistics table, due to the huge amount of occupational fields, activities and sectors involved. The German Environment Agency commissions research projects on a regular basis to estimate employment in environmental protection, using an internationally recognised method. An extensive documentation of the method and its results can be found at Edler und Blazejczak 2016 (in German only) and also Blazejczak and Edler 2015.The detailed documentation of the latest estimates has been published in the newest report ‘Beschäftigungswirkungen des Umweltschutzes in Deutschland’ (Edler und Blazejczak 2024, in German only).

More detailed information: 'Beschäftigung und Umweltschutz' (in German only).