Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labor Organization, and Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, issued a joint statement on the economic benefits of a low-carbon economy.
Ahead of the climate summit scheduled later this year in New York City, the leaders said they were putting momentum behind the narrative in response to questions about the job prospects.
"If properly managed, environmental sustainability can lead to more and better jobs, poverty reduction and social inclusion," they said Wednesday. "In fact, the transition to the green economy could generate up to 60 million additional jobs over the next two decades."
A draft report published this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds emissions are falling in most Western countries because of an increased use of low-carbon energy resources and improvements in energy efficiency. The rising industrialization of Asian economies, however, means the driving factors behind changing weather patterns could be spiraling out of control.
Ryder and Figueres called for an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing the problem of climate change.
"Inaction is not an option," they said. "Unabated climate change will exacerbate climate-related damage to infrastructure, disrupt business activity, and destroy jobs and livelihoods on an unprecedented scale."