windmill sunrise - george lu - flickrEoin O’Carroll over at the Christian Science Monitor’s Bright Green Blog has showcased a new Worldwatch Study this week that has found that green collar jobs are on the rise around the world. According to the study, about 2.3 million people work in industries related to renewable energy. Wind and solar especially are booming industries creating jobs all over the place. Due mainly to local and state leadership in the US, almost 200,000 people are directly employed in the clean energy sector, with another 246,000 indirectly employed.

The study also found that jobs in fossil fuels are on the decline. This isn’t something to celebrate; these are folks out of a job. When encouraging the growth of green jobs, smart policy will help transition fossil fuel workers into the new renewable economies—via training programs, for example. As the study says, these new green jobs are real and growing quickly; there will be plenty of opportunities to incorporate workers into them.

As we’ve written before, green collar jobs are finding their way to our neck of the woods. But oftentimes, when speaking of the New Green Economy, we dwell on urban centers and industries. In the Northwest in particular, as timber, mining, and nonrenewable industries sag, fostering green collar jobs in rural areas can ensure those communities remain vibrant in a shifting economy. This means investing in education and training not only in the cities, but in suburban and rural areas as well—working equity into the equation from the beginning. As Van Jones has said, part of the solution is making sure the work goes to the right people—that the green wave lifts all boats (video here).

What’s also interesting to see in this study is the piecemeal approach that utilizes an array of energy sources: wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and more. With such a wide variety of options, possibilities for clean energy jobs can find their way just about anywhere. One thing this report shows for certain: the coming changes brought about by dwindling fossil fuel supplies and smart energy policy that cuts dangerous pollution while shifting our energy economy is full of real opportunities.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user George Lu under a Creative Commons license.