Green jobs (or as it is called in Portuguese “emprego verde”) are already a huge part of Brazil’s economy. According to a study that formed the basis for a master thesis defended recently at the university of São Paulo, Brazil currently has over 6.5 million jobs linked to considered green environmental sectors in the Brazilian economy, such as water, sewage and waste management, forestry and transport. This represents over 6% of the total number of jobs in Brazil.
The overall prediction is that this number will continue to grow as the demand of the global productive sectors for environmentally friendly services and products grows and the ongoing climate crises presses for more sustainability.
This is very good news for climate, as the amount of green jobs in Brazil can be interpreted as a proxy to show how “green” the Brazilian economy is. It illustrates how production processes are incorporating practices that reduce negative impacts on the environment, in addition to showing how they are conserving natural resources. The thesis cited in this article even shows that in 20 of the 35 sectors considered partially green, the generation of jobs on the green side is greater than the non-green side, when there is a positive variation in the final demand in each of these areas. This means that the green sector has the best conditions to boost the economy, an objective that is even more pressing with the Coronavirus crises as described in a previous Climate Scorecard post. In simpler words, when this sector suffers an increase in its final demand, it “pulls” the development of several other sectors.
Some predictions suggest that a green economic recovery would, in fact, allow Brazil’s economy to grow more over the next decade than business-as- usual. Newly identified benefits could include a net increase of more than 2 million jobs by 2030 – four times more jobs than those already existing in the Brazil’s oil and gas industry. These jobs would result from investing in quality infrastructure, low-carbon technologies and transitioning to low-carbon agriculture. This type of discussion is a huge step for Brazil! The initiative’s inaugural report, A New Economy for a New Era: Elements for Building a More Efficient and Resilient Economy in Brazil, summarizes how a green COVID-19 recovery could deliver a stronger economy at home, and a competitive edge abroad.
The study was led by WRI Brazil and the New Climate Economy project, and implemented in partnership with specialists from several institutions, including PUC-Rio (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro), CPI (Climate Policy Initiative, Brazil Policy Center), Coppe-UFRJ (Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute of Post-Graduation and Research in Engineering, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Ipea (Institute of Applied Economic Research), Febraban (Brazilian Federation of Banks), and CEBDS (Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development).
Specifically when it comes to low carbon agriculture, some argue that the promotion of green jobs could be pivotal in preventing deforestation in the Amazon. Offering communities in the rainforest a way to make a living that does not involve cattle and soy farming, logging, or any other industry linked to deforestation could go a long way. Currently the market has not been paying as much for what the forest produces naturally—native rubber, cocoa, nuts, medicinal herbs—compared to beef, soy, and wood. However, with direct incentives in sustainable production, the standing forest could be worth more than the cleared forest. For instance, the international shoe company Veja is among a small number of companies that are investing directly in the raw materials of the forest and building a new model for conservation that is responsible for the creation of green jobs. However, there is still a long way to go for this type of productions to represent a larger share of Brazil’s economy.
A study by Brazilian researchers points that the predominant green sector in Brazil is linked to public transport, which was responsible for approximately one third of green jobs in Brazil in the decade of 2006-2015. Additionally, the telecommunications and call center segment represented one-fifth of this category of jobs in 2015, attesting to the green potential associated with modern forms of communication. The maintenance, repair and recovery sector also reflected a gain in green jobs. However, the authors point out there has been a sharp decline in green jobs in the sector of generation and distribution of renewable energy. This result has a bitter taste when considering the potential of a country like Brazil could have in the generation of renewable energy, such as solar for example, as described in another recent Climate Scorecard post.
It is also relevant to look at green jobs in Brazil from a regional point of view. As described in the same study, the forestry production and management sector employ proportionally less than all other sectors. However, in the North and South regions, this sector has greater relative weight. The sanitation and waste management sector, responsible for 11-12% of Brazil’s green jobs, has an above average weight in 2015 in the Northeast and Midwest regions. The South region stands out in the maintenance, repair and recovery sector, where a quarter of regional jobs are found. The telecommunications and call center sector is almost absent in the North region (6.9%), but it acquired relevance in the Northeast (24.5%), surpassing the proportion of the Southeast region (22%) in 2015. The Midwest and North regions, in turn, have in the generation and distribution of renewable energy 31% and 27%, respectively, of total regional green jobs. Finally, the transport segment is particularly relevant in the generation of green jobs for the North (35%), Southeast (31.5%) and South (30%) in the last year of the study, but it still has little relative relevance in the Center-West (18%).
Although there is considerable growth in the number of green jobs in Brazil, the expansion is much below then what could potentially be happening. That is mainly due to the slow pace of Brazil’s transition to a low-carbon economy. There has not been an intention of contributing to green jobs stimulation, or even a clear objective of transitioning to more sustainable production in Brazil.
Especially in the energy sector, a better strategy of investing in renewable sources, combined with special incentives and reduction of costs of new projects, could be a huge impulse in directing Brazil to an increase in green jobs as a consequence of the growth of a low carbon economy with less environmental degradation.
More generally, there is so much potential for growth with tax incentives for companies that produce environmentally sustainable projects, the creation of environmentally correct and responsible labor legislation and the intuition of credits available to companies to companies that could invest in green technologies and employ workers in a decent manner
Currently, a lot of the growth of the green sector can be attributed to private initiatives. Both through innovate technologies (aimed at lessening the impact of production on the environment) and with the creation of goals and strategies for reducing emissions within a company. That is to say, much of the size of green jobs in Brazil are related to market-based responses from Brazil’s economy, that is to say, the documented increase in the international demand for more sustainability in products and services coming from Brazil.
Activity Rating: *** Right Direction
Brazil is a very relevant example of the potential of green jobs to contribute to economic development, and it should be highlighted that this sector represents a growing and big share of Brazilian jobs. Nevertheless, more could still be done to allow Brazil to fulfill its green jobs potential, with more public investments and other initiatives directed to the creation and regulation of these jobs. In particular, the potential of green jobs with more renewable energies and sustainable production in the forestry sector should be noted.
Action Alert Message: Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
There is an urgent need to further promote green jobs in Brazil! Not only is it good for our climate, but green jobs also can contribute to our economic recovery. We urge that you consider investing in the renewable energy sector and low carbon agriculture and sustainable forestry, in particular. Moreover, it would be very beneficial if there was more legislation that regulated the creation of these jobs, as well as more research into wages and regional distribution of jobs in the green sector. In summary, we ask you for a higher engagement in developing a green economy in Brazil. Brazil has a very good opportunity to become a pioneer in the promotion of green jobs that should not be passed over.
Mr. Paulo Guedes
Minister of Economy
Block P – 5th floor
Phone: (61) 3412-2515 / 1721
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Luiza Martins Karpavicius:
 More specifically for the interested reader, the recent dissertation of economist Paulo Eduardo Braga Pereira Filho, available at: http://www.escolhas.org/brasil-tem-mais-de-65-milhoes-de-empregos-verdes-revela-dissertacao-de-bolsista-da-catedra-escolhas/ (only in Brazilian Portuguese)