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Renewables Can Create 8.5 Million Jobs: Greenpeace

BERLIN - Climate pressure group Greenpeace said on Monday that switching to renewable energy sources could create 8.5 million jobs by 2030 if governments turn their backs on "dirty and dangerous" fossil fuels.

"Investing in people, rather than dirty and dangerous fossil fuels not only boosts global economic development but stems catastrophic climate change," Greenpeace said in a new report unveiled in Berlin.

"The sustainable future of the planet is rooted in the investment in people and local communities who can install and maintain renewable energy sources," it said.

Currently around two million people are employed in the renewables sector.

Greenpeace said that the global market for renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power could be worth more than 600 billion dollars by 2030, a six-fold increase from now.

The forecasts are based on a scenario of carbon dioxide emissions being cut by more than 80 per cent by 2050 from 1990 levels, and 95 per cent of the world's electricity needs being produced by renewables compared with around 18 per cent at present.

Sven Teske, Greenpeace's senior energy expert and co-author of the new report, told AFP that this scenario was "ambitious" and that major polluters have not set such long-term targets.

The European Union has pledged to cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels while President Barack Obama wants US emissions to be cut "in the range of 17 per cent" by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.

China, the world's biggest emitter, has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity -- the measure of greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product -- by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.

A summit in Copenhagen in December failed to result in an across-the-board target for cutting emissions, and the US climate negotiator said last month it was politically unrealistic to try to agree global targets.

The report, "Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook", the third edition, provides a "detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon emissions while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency," Greenpeace said.

It "shows how to eliminate unpredictable fossil fuel costs, destructive mining and oil exploration and with it catastrophes such as the current BP Gulf oil spill" in the Gulf of Mexico, Teske said. 

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