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Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health and the Environment, Senator Aundre Franklin, has called for the creation of a ‘green economy’ and ‘green jobs’, thus creating a new workforce of what he terms ‘green collar workers’.
This vision of a green economy, he says, would also facilitate the training of thousands of unemployed Jamaican youths for 21st century jobs of international marketability, to work in a more meaningful sustainable manner.
Making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate today (Sept. 26), Senator Franklin noted that both the former and present administration, have made positive moves towards the formal creation of the green economy, citing the Wigton Wind-Farm of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ); the proposed establishment of a solar energy farm in Hellshire; the creation of an ethanol plant; and greenhouse farming.
Turning to green collar workers, who he described as persons who generally implement environmentally conscious design, policy, and technology to improve conservation and sustainability, the Senator noted that in order to formalise the entry of this new work force, a “Green Job Act” would need to be created.
“This Act would be structured to guarantee the training of young people for ‘green collar’ jobs locally. It would authorise funding for the workforce training programmes targeted at displaced workers, at-risk youth, under-employed persons and families in extreme poverty,” he explained.
In addition, he noted that the Act would also enable persons to be trained for jobs such as solar panel manufacturing and assembly, solar panel installation and servicing, weatherisation of buildings, landscape developers and maintenance specialists, organic farmers, rooftop landscape artists, electricians, boiler maintenance technicians, welders and masons.
The issue of financing for the ‘green collar’ workforce, he said, could be addressed through the Government “leading the way in financing the training of its people.” This he said could be done by selling the nation’s carbon credits, seeking funding through the UNFCC Clean Development Mechanism, and PetroCaribe.
He noted further that the Government could also ensure the involvement of the private sector, through offering tax incentives to companies that carry out green projects within inner-city communities, and tax incentives for companies that employ trainees to landscape their rooftops as is done in Japan, Denmark and Australia.
Senator Franklin stressed that ‘green roofing’, which involves partially or completely covering roofs with vegetation and soil, should be encouraged “in our built-up areas such as New Kingston, which would provide amenity space for building users, reduce heating, reduce storm-water run off, filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater, increase wildlife habitat and just as important, it will provide a job.”