Green and polluting jobs in the Nordic countries
The European Union Green Deal is expected to result in 2.5 million new jobs in 2030 (Cedefop 2022). The green transition is widely supported by governments, business organisations and trade unions. The impacts of the green transition in terms of new jobs and job losses may, however, differ between different industries, countries and regions.
One way to understand the impact of the green transition is to distinguish between green jobs, white jobs and brown jobs. The vast majority of the jobs in the European Union are considered "white jobs", i.e. jobs which will see only moderate changes in tasks related to the greening of jobs. “Green jobs” include more tasks related to the green transition and are expected to grow, and “brown jobs” belong to the major polluting industry sectors (Vandeplas et al. 2022).
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) uses a similar terminology, namely “green-task jobs” and “polluting jobs” (OECD, 2023). Less than a fifth of the workforce in the OECD holds a green-tasked job, while in the Nordic countries, the corresponding figure ranges from 22% in Iceland to 27% in Sweden. Some regions are impacted by both green jobs and brown jobs. For example, in the north of Sweden, thousands of new green jobs are being created at the same time as the region has many brown jobs, some of which will also be turned into green ones.