Prioritising green recovery in cities could create nearly 38 million jobs in the U.S. and over 1.1 million in Italy and contribute significantly to meeting national 2030 climate targets
Today, C40 Cities released new research highlighting how from now until 2030, cities in the United States and Italy can create nearly 38 million and over 1.1 million jobs, respectively, from city climate projects that directly address the climate crisis by reducing carbon emissions and making cities more resilient.
C40’s analysis, “Creating local green jobs: the United States and Italy” shows how cities can capitalise on recovery stimulus funding to boost their economy and address climate change to build more resilient, sustainable, and liveable communities for city residents. The research identified the potential job growth from efforts that would make cities more sustainable and resilient in the face of climate impacts with populations greater than 50,000. In total, the research represents 156 million Americans — approximately 48% of total population in the U.S. — and 21 million Italians — approximately 35% of total population in Italy.
Cites need direct access to sources of investment. A green and just recovery focused on the buildings, transport and energy sectors in American cities is estimated to require over $2.3 trillion per year for the next five years, while in Italy it is estimated to be just over €100 billion annually over the same period. A high-carbon recovery will require similar investment, but without the same benefits. With increased investment, city actions alone could deliver over 60% of the United States’ existing 2030 climate target and over 40% of Italy’s 2030 EU climate target, making higher ambition to align with a 1.5ºC scenario possible.
C40 member cities Houston, Miami, Milan and Rome were examined in depth, and the data shows how cities are extraordinarily well-positioned to deliver massive economic benefits, both locally and nationally, by accelerating climate action between now and 2030:
- In the United States, city-led climate action could support and create a total of nearly 38 million jobs; 19.7 million of these jobs resulting from actions to help reduce carbon emissions, including the decarbonisation of the buildings, transport, and power supply sectors, and 18.2 million additional jobs from actions that would protect cities from extreme weather or future climate-related events.
- In Italy, city-led climate action could result in over 1.1 million jobs for the country; this includes nearly 1 million jobs from actions that would reduce cities’ carbon emissions by 2030, and an additional 140,000 jobs from adaptation and nature-based solution actions.
- Over 50,000 jobs could be created from mitigation and adaptation actions over the next ten years through investments in Milan’s climate action projects. Through retrofitting existing buildings and houses, Milan could create and support nearly 26,000 jobs in the same period, while reducing emissions and improving energy poverty.
- In Miami, the city could support and rapidly create nearly 40,000 jobs by 2030 by just investing in the sectors of sustainable transport, renewable energy, making buildings more energy efficient and future-proofing the city against climate impacts, such as building flood barriers.
“Cities have an enormous opportunity in front of them: millions of jobs are available today to cities that want a more resilient and sustainable future,” said Dr. Rachel Huxley, Director of Knowledge and Learning at C40 Cities. “Investing in cities is good for the economy and environment at the local and national levels. But we need to act now to unlock the full potential of this opportunity. Delaying just a few years would cost jobs, economic growth, and long-term resilience against the future impacts of climate change.”
Additionally, C40’s research analysed building, transport, energy, and waste industries to showcase how a green and just recovery and climate interventions will create jobs in each sector in both countries.
- In the United States, making city buildings more energy efficient and resilient to future climate impacts has the greatest potential for jobs, including construction workers and retrofitters. Whole house retrofits of buildings and construction of new energy efficient buildings could support 10.3 million and 2.7 million jobs, respectively. These city-led actions would decrease emissions in the near term and make city buildings less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in the future.
- In Italy, putting stimulus funds towards increasing resiliency and adaptation in city buildings would see the greatest number of jobs created; house retrofits and construction of new energy efficient buildings could support 598,000 and 274,000 jobs, respectively. To green and rebuild Italy’s economy while making progress to the country’s national climate targets, the national government should invest in resilience and mitigation efforts in major cities.
The analysis also concluded that delaying climate action now risks long-term success and job growth. Waiting just five years for climate mitigation interventions would drastically decrease the number of jobs available between now and 2030; in Italy, over 300,000 fewer jobs could be gained, while it would be a missed opportunity to create nearly 7 million new jobs in the U.S. By investing in climate adaptation actions today, cities and countries will be better protected from and prepared for the future impacts of climate change.
The research also shows that women may be underrepresented in new green jobs, occupying only 35% of new jobs in Italy and 40% in the U.S. Additionally, green job creation is currently dominated by Italians aged 30-49 and by white Americans. Therefore workforce development and just transition policies must be implemented to guarantee that new jobs are inclusive and accessible to all.
“The data are clear,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said, “investing in cities through direct funding dedicated to a green and just recovery is the best investment to achieve the green new deal Italians overwhelmingly want. And there is more: sound environmental and social policies coupled with the huge investment from the recovery packages is the best way to create economic development and new jobs. Milan is ready: we have recognised the opportunity early on and put forward comprehensive projects. Through the delivery of specific climate actions, Milan will support 50,000 good quality green jobs over the next 10 years.”
“The best time to invest in the green economy is today. As we continue our way out of the Covid pandemic, we have the opportunity to double-down on our climate adaptation efforts, expand our economy, and improve the quality of life for every Miamian,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “In Miami alone, the green economy grew 3.8 times faster than the traditional economy over the last 5 years—and we now have the opportunity to create an additional 40,000 clean jobs—the proof is there, it’s time to act on it.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said: “Climate action is a jobs generator. More than 18 million jobs would be supported by implementing climate adaptation, cities alone would account for up to 85% of new positions. Decarbonization, energy efficiency, electrification and solar fields promise high-wage opportunities for workers while supporting our race to reduce emissions and limit global warming to 1.5ºC.”
“This research from C40 is very encouraging,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “The choices being made right now will shape our society for years, if not decades to come. It makes little economic sense for governments to not to invest in renewable energy, what is expensive is paying for disasters that are caused by climate change and cities footing the bill for floods and fires. Right now, we have the opportunity to use recovery stimulus funding to invest in more sustainable, resilient, and regenerative economic systems, based on renewable, accessible and just energy sources. That is what climate leadership looks like.”