|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
As a rapidly developing country with a large population and a fragile eco-environment, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. In just three decades from 1978, the PRC has become the world's second-largest economy, and such growth and expansion have had a significant impact on the country's eco-environment. The government has emphasized the need to build an environmentally sustainable and energy-efficient society, transitioning to a low-carbon economy and promoting green jobs under its Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). The government has taken significant steps in this direction. The government's spending on research and development has increased from 1.25% of gross domestic product in 2004 to 1.5% of a bigger gross domestic product in 2008. The solar industry in the PRC is gaining importance in the "clean-tech" global marketplace, with its investment across the clean technology sector reaching $13.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010. The PRC is engaged in carbon trading through the Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon emission credit system under the Kyoto Protocol. Local initiatives, from green growth incubators to eco-villages and to development of green cities are gaining traction in the PRC. The central government has emphasized the importance of promoting green jobs, including introducing the concept and raising awareness of green jobs among the government and the public through advocacy initiatives; conducting strategic research on green jobs to inform policies and strategies, including issues of unemployment and redeployment; strengthening skills training for green jobs; and encouraging innovation in green and clean sectors to spur green employment. The government targets to create 2.2 million green jobs by 2020.
The recent global recession has emphasized the need for policy interventions aimed at encouraging recovery and renewed growth on more environmentally and socially sustainable grounds. There is a growing need to promote job creation in new sectors and increase productivity levels across all sectors, which will be the key driver of growth. This requires greater cohesion between the industrial, environmental protection, and employment promotion policies. There is a need for a broad, integrated mix of policies in order to achieve strong green growth and promote a green economy, including a focus on market-based approaches and regulations, encouraging investment in green technologies, fostering innovation, and investment in research and development. Achieving greener growth and a greener economy will involve not only seizing opportunities to develop new green industries, jobs, and technologies, but also managing the transition for greening the more traditional sectors with the associated employment and distributional effects. While there is a prospect of additional green jobs, the long-term impact on employment is uncertain across most green growth scenarios. The costs associated with green growth may include job displacement or job destruction in some traditional industries. Some jobs will be substituted or redefined. Therefore, one of the main challenges will be to facilitate reallocation of capital and labor across sectors while minimizing the resulting adjustment costs. Adjustment risks entailed in the PRC's transition to a low carbon economy, particularly on job losses and re-employment due to market failures and skill mismatches, will need to be analyzed.
Inclusive green growth and green pathways out of poverty. In light of the government's goal of building a harmonious society and given the nexus between climate change, environmental factors, and poverty, it is important to assess how green jobs can serve as "green pathways out of poverty." This involves seeing green growth within the national poverty reduction policy framework, assessing positive and negative impacts of green growth scenarios on poverty reduction, and stimulating participation of poor and vulnerable populations in the green economy. Anticipating and adapting to the social and economic effects of climate change can involve widening employment opportunities, including for the poor, on a sustainable basis. For instance, migrant workers in the PRC are among the most vulnerable to economic changes and their job opportunities were affected by the global recession in 2009. Green jobs could provide new opportunities for migrants. A pro-poor green jobs strategy needs to address the issue of decent work (good jobs which offer adequate wages, safe working conditions, job security, reasonable career prospects, social security benefits, and promotion of workers' rights) and the sustainability of job creation for lower-income groups and the poor, as well as its systemic impact on the labor market. Furthermore, climate change has gender dimensions in both urban and rural areas. Women, while accounting for less than 50% of all migrant workers nationwide, tend to concentrate in a narrow range of jobs and industries. For example, young women workers from other provinces dominate large manufacturing and processing plants in coastal urban areas. Issues specific to women migrant workers must be systematically reviewed, and green jobs strategies must be tailored to their special needs. Further, monitoring of employment data by gender needs to be strengthened.
Training for green skills. There is a growing recognition that almost all jobs will require green skills to some degree and that these may be developed incrementally. While the development of green technologies will require scientific technological engineering and mathematic skills, many of the changes within jobs will require not novel or special skills but better generic competencies, such as environmental awareness; entrepreneurship; adaptability; and strategic, innovation, and marketing skills. This requires the strengthening of training and skills development at both the industry and public sector levels. Greater policy coherence will ensure that both economic and environmental policy objectives are supported by skills development. The skills development strategy should also look at the low-skilled workers' inclusion in the changing labor market, mainly migrant workers who represent a large part of the labor force. Some emphasis should also be placed on retraining versus new training needs and on a tailored approach to retraining various target groups (e.g., by gender, age), given that local governments are attempting to shift their local economies and regular technical and vocational education and training approaches often do not adequately address the emerging needs. The TA will assist the central government in the following specific areas: (i) analyzing the potential for green jobs creation in the context of green growth; (ii) assessing linkages between green growth and poverty reduction by analyzing the potential for decent green jobs as "pathways out of poverty" for low-income and vulnerable groups, including migrant workers, women, and youth; (iii) assessing the gender dimensions of green jobs potential; (iv) fostering consultations among stakeholders to promote green jobs, including for the lower-income population and vulnerable groups; (v) assessing training and retraining needs, including for vulnerable groups; and (vi) making policy recommendations for the creation and promotion of green employment under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan, to help the PRC accelerate its transition to a low carbon economy.