Energy policy may bring 500,000 jobs

Energy policy may bring 500,000 jobs

DAVOS - Reuters
The European Union may pass a triple whammy environmental policy in the first half of this year that would bring a rapid jobs boost, cut energy bills and improve the environment by one simple measure: keeping Europe’s buildings in good repair.

Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the EU Energy Efficiency Directive includes a commitment to retrofit a certain number of public buildings each year, improving insulation and stopping leaks.

“We have proposed a percentage of 3 percent a year, and that’s out of an employment perspective as well,” she told Reuters at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

“One of the few things that can create jobs very, very fast in Europe is if you are actually doing something with retrofitting pipes, retrofitting energy systems, retrofitting houses - that creates jobs very, very quickly after you have adopted these kind of policies. There are not so many other issues that can do that.”

With Europe’s economy in the doldrums because of the eurozone debt crisis and unemployment at 9.8 percent in November, politicians are desperate for ways of providing growth but unwilling or unable to pay for a stimulus package.

‘Sector needs help’
Better insulation for Europe’s buildings would help a construction sector that “needs it very badly,” Hedegaard said.

“It’s estimated that energy efficiency alone could generate 500,000 jobs in the years up to 2020. But we also have other initiatives in the climate field where all in all there is the potential of creating 2 million new jobs until 2020, if we get it right. Companies that might benefit from a revamp of public buildings include insulation specialists Kingspan Group and SIG, as well as builders like German construction firm Hochtief.