Green Jobs in France Seem to be Rapidly Increasing

Green Jobs in France Seem to be Rapidly Increasing

Green jobs in France fall under the umbrella label of green economy, l’économie verte. This concept comprises, on the one hand, green jobs (emplois verts) including both directly environmentally beneficial jobs (éco-activités) and jobs that contribute to a beneficial environmental impact (activités périphériques); and on the other hand, ‘greening jobs’ (emplois verdissants), referring to traditional jobs done in increasingly environmentally friendly ways, aiming to become green. In this report, Climate Scorecard is primarily interested in the first mentioned category of green jobs (éco-activités + activités périphériques). The estimated number of such jobs in France is between 900,000 and 1 million, up to 3-4% of the country’s total employment. Another estimated 2.5-3 million jobs are considered ‘greening’. Accurate assessment of the number of green jobs is challenging, due to the various definitions, various calculation practices (full-time equivalent jobs or individual employment contracts), and the occurrence of green jobs in sectors beyond those monitored.

The number of green jobs in France according to different sources

Source (year) Type of activity
Green jobs Éco-activités Greening jobs Green professions
L’Institut Paris Région (2014) 997,000 465,500    
Government CEDEF (2015-2016) 900,000 441,950 3,700,000 146,000
Commissariat général au développement durable (2017)   465,500    

According to the Commissariat général au développement durable, the growth in the number of green jobs seems to be accelerating: the average growth rate in 2004-2017 was 2.8%, but from 2016 to 2017, the increase was 5.4%. In comparison, the number of jobs in the economy at large increased by only 1% from 2016 to 2017. Similarly, the green economy production grew by 4.7% from 2016 to 2017, as compared to 3.4% in all sectors.

In the Commissariat’s calculations, the greatest number of green jobs in France were found in soil and water restoration – some 96,000 in total. Waste management employed 84,500 people and wastewater sanitation over 61,000 people. The increase of green jobs was concentrated in the sectors of renewable energy, water sanitation, and environmental research and development. Jobs in organic agriculture have also significantly increased as many farmers are shifting from traditional to organic farming (while employment in the agricultural sector is generally decreasing). Recent statistics suggest that the renewable energy sector weighted 60,000 full-time equivalent jobs within ‘éco-activités’ in 2017, a +9% increase with respect to the two previous years largely focused on the solar power (+56%).

Geographically, as of September 2016, the biggest share of green job offers was concentrated in the Paris region (Île-de-France): some 24%. Another 13% could be found in the Lyon region (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes). In the remaining regions, percentage shares were at less than ten. These figures are roughly proportional to regional populations. With average salary offers at €30,251 annually, green jobs were largely on par with the average of all jobs (€30,551).

Green job policies since 2009

Policymakers in France recognised in the early 2000s that transitioning to a greener economy would have an impact on existing jobs. In 2009, the government launched a national plan for green economy (Le Plan National de Mobilisation pour les emplois et les métiers dans l’économie verte), identifying and analysing from the perspective of a green transition various critical sectors and occupations, ranging from agriculture to automobile industry. Year 2015 witnessed the introduction of green growth legislation (La Loi pour la transition énergétique pour la croissance verte (n° 2015-992), which among other things aimed, in the short term, at creating 100,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector and in the construction sector within energy efficiency improvements. This number was expected to increase to 200,000 by 2030. The law was updated in 2019 with the energy and climate law (La Loi relative à l’énergie et au climat) to explicitly spell out the principal objective of attaining carbon neutrality by 2050. Furthermore, in 2017, the government introduced the national climate plan (Le Plan Climat) which involves support measures to employees whose jobs are directly impacted by the transition, such as the construction sector and coal power plants.

Recently, the green economy movement in France has gained some public recognition and traction with the 2020 Citizens’ Climate Convention (Convention citoyenne pour le climat). The Convention, which concluded its work in June 2020, had been tasked by the government to find solutions to ‘reduce the French emissions of greenhouse gas by at least 40 % compared to 1990, in a spirit of social justice’. The purpose of the initiative was to gain popular legitimacy for future climate policy measures. Among the Convention’s propositions is a call for providing technical and financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises and employees in transitioning to greener activities. This is to be done for example through ‘massive’ public investment in continuing education and enhanced rewards for improved environmental competences. Among the tangible objectives is that the entire construction sector would by 2030 be trained in recycling and in using low-carbon materials. President Emmanuel Macron has announced that this proposition, along with another 145 out of the Convention’s total of 149, will be submitted either as legislative proposals to parliament or to popular vote through a referendum. Furthermore, the recently appointed Prime Minister Jean Castex has stated that €30 billion of the new Covid-19 stimulus package of €100 billion will be geared towards a green transition.

Overall, most green economy policy projects have been of a relatively general nature. It is therefore unclear to what extent green job growth has been directly impacted by green job promotion policies, as opposed to for example stricter environmental standards which necessitate companies to adjust their activities. At the same time, the government already has a body that could better follow up on these developments: the national observatory for green jobs (L’observatoire national des emplois et métiers de l’économie verte, Onemev). The observatory could potentially be harnessed to produce more transparent and publicly available information on the matter.

Rating: *** Right Direction

The number of green jobs in France is increasing at an apparently accelerating rate. The government has taken measures to support the development, although the direct impact of the measures is uncertain.

Take Action

Write to the President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron; Ministers for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Ms. Barbara Pompili, Ms. Emmanuelle Wargon, and Mr. Jean-Baptiste Djebbari; and Minister of Employment Elisabeth Borne:

Dear Mr. President, Dear Ms. and Mr. Ministers,

Climate Scorecard applauds France’s accelerating transitioning towards green economy as the number of green jobs in the country is increasing. The 5.4% growth from 2016 to 2017, as reported by the Commissariat général au développement durable, is encouraging. We nevertheless also want to draw your attention to the fact that the reliability of the growth figures poses a problem, as different government sources cite varying figures. Improving the clarity and transparency of these statistics, for example with the help of L’observatoire national des emplois et métiers de l’économie verte, would facilitate the monitoring of green jobs growth. We furthermore support the propositions of the Convention citoyenne pour le climat regarding intensified transitioning towards greener jobs, and we urge you to follow through with your plan to dedicate €30 billion of the upcoming Covid-19 stimulus package to the green economy.

With our respectful and best regards,

[sign name]

Send Action Alert Message to:

President Emmanuel Macron


Ms. Barbara Pompili, Ms. Emmanuelle Wargon, and Mr. Jean-Baptiste Djebbari


Ms. Elisabeth Borne


Post submitted by France Country Manager Anna Savolainen

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