A worldwide effort to combat climate change would create more jobs than it would lose, a new study shows.
To achieve the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, a switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is essential.
But the switch to clean energy has received a lot of political opposition, charged by the fear that the loss of fossil fuel industries would cause millions of people to lose their jobs.
This new study proves that employment should not be a disincentive to advancing climate action.
The researchers found that by 2030, net job creation and reallocation would occur in most countries — primarily in the renewables, construction and manufacturing sectors. Adopting the measures to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius would provide 0.3 percent more jobs worldwide, according to the study.
“Climate action is an opportunity to create over 24 million jobs across the world,” Guillermo Montt, a senior sociologist at the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, and lead author of the study, said in a statement.
“To maximise the employment opportunities, governments need to complement climate action with a conducive legal framework, consultation process of society, social protection, skills and industrial policy to enable a just transition,” he continued. “In this context, job losses should not be an excuse to slow down urgent climate action.”
Governments have partially been procrastinating the shift to clean, renewable energy due to the fear that it would gash the economy.
But despite a natural loss of some occupations, the researchers predict more new jobs to be created than existing jobs lost, overall.
Out of the 44 national economies analyzed, the countries expected to experience the greatest net job creation are Bulgaria, Taiwan and Indonesia, which all could anticipate a growth of 0.9 percent more jobs.
This is primarily because those countries have been slow to adopt clean energy solutions, but still have the ability to do so. A significant transition to renewables would require a lot of work, which would create a lot of jobs.
The only studied region expected to lose jobs in a switch to clean energy is the Middle East, mostly because of its strong economic dependence to fossil fuels.
Job loss will mostly occur in industries supporting fossil fuels, such as coal mining, petroleum refining and generation of electricity from coal and natural gas.
In addition to the jobs created in renewables, a significant amount of jobs would be created in construction and manufacturing fields. There will be a high demand for workers to help build, and maintain, the parts and machinery needed to generate electricity from renewable sources.
The researchers acknowledge that people will have to develop the unique skill sets needed to work in these sectors, and the new jobs won’t necessarily be in the same cities or regions as those lost, which may require people to relocate.
For the future of the world’s ecosystems, a switch to renewable energy is necessary. This study could incentivize change and reassure politicians that a transition to renewable energy won’t destroy the economy.
“Whatever change is expected, it can be made smoother if appropriate policies for a transition to energy sustainability are taken gradually in the run-up to 2030,” the authors wrote in the study.
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Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.