Indicator: Employment in environmental protection

A graph shows the workforce in environmental protection and their share in the overall workforce for 2002 until 2012 – in two-year-steps. The share was 5.2 per cent in 2012, whereas it was only 3.7 in 2002.Click to enlarge
Employment in environmental protection
Source: Edler et al. Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • In 2012, 2.2 million people worked in environmental protection, which is 5 % of the total employment.
  • Of this, over half are environment-related services.
  • Employment in environmental protection has risen by more than 50 % since 2002.

Environmental importance

Employment in environmental protection is an important indicator for the relevance of environmental protection for the economy. The main objective of environmental protection is not the creation of jobs. 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 for environmental protection, either by doing environmental protection activities as part of their job description or because they work in upstream production areas. In addition to absolute numbers of people employed, the indicator also gives the proportion of people employed in environmental protection compared to overall employment figures. The figure gives an indication whether the overall significance of environmental protection for the labour market is increasing or declining.


Assessing the development

With a share of 5.2 %, environmental protection is an important factor in Germany’s labour market. In 2012, approximately 2.2 million people owed their job to environmental protection. About 60 % of these jobs are environment-related services, such as planning offices, environmental authorities, environmental education or car-sharing businesses.

In recent years, employment in environmental protection has been rising constantly, by more than 50 % between 2002 and 2012. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, employment rose by 12.5 %, increasing more steeply than overall employment. An increase in the export of environmental protection goods, the further development of renewable energy during this period and the increasing importance of environmental services all had a positive effect.



The number of employees working in the field of environmental protection cannot just be read 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 and Blazejczak (2016, in German only).

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