If some politicians are to be believed, taking radical steps to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement would be disastrous for jobs in the energy sector. But one study suggests that meeting the global climate target would actually increase net jobs by about 8 million by 2050.
The study, in which the researchers created a global dataset of the footprint of energy jobs in 50 countries, including the major fossil fuel-producing economies, found that an estimated 18 million people currently work in energy industries. energy, which will likely rise to 26 million if climate targets are met.
Previous research suggests that climate-friendly policies could increase net energy jobs by 20 million or more, but that work relied only on empirical data from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and generalized the results for the rest of the countries. world using a multiplier. But the data varies dramatically between regions, driven by differences in technology and unionization rates, among other factors. For example, mining 1 million tons of coal in India requires 725 workers, compared to 73 in the US.
The last analysis, published in One Earth magazine, combined these employment factors in a global dataset (including key fossil fuels, non-OECD economies such as Russia, India and China) with an integrated assessment model, combining climate estimates and economical to predict costs. of climate change.
“This dataset makes the analysis more based on … reality, rather than using a multiplier,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Sandeep Pai, who led the analysis as part of his Ph.D. at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
In the objective scenario that global temperatures remain well below 2 ° C of pre-industrial levels, of the total jobs in the energy sector in 2050, 84% would be in the renewable energy sector, the 11% in fossil fuels and 5% in nuclear energy. the analysis found. Although fossil fuel extraction jobs, which make up the majority (80%) of current fossil fuel jobs, will decline sharply, those losses should be offset by gains in solar and wind fabrication jobs that countries could compete for. , the researchers estimated.
However, while most countries will experience a net increase in employment, China and fossil fuel exporting countries such as Canada, Australia and Mexico could see net losses.
Without a doubt, there will be winners and losers. The winners will be the people who take these jobs in the renewable sector, and there are the health benefits of fresh air and cleaner cities, but there will also be individuals, businesses and governments that lose out, Pai said.
“So … we want to work towards a ‘just’ transition, make sure no one is left behind,” he said. “The point is that unless the politics and social context of different countries align, I think this technological transition will not happen anytime soon.”
Johannes Emmerling, an environmental economist at the RFF-CMCC European Institute of Economics and Environment in Italy, another author of the study, acknowledged that the analysis did not take into account skills gaps.
People working in the fossil fuel industry do not necessarily have the knowledge or experience to do jobs in the renewable sector, but since there are few estimates of jobs, as the world aims to forge a greener future, The focus was on reaffirming estimates, he said, adding that skills were the next avenue of investigation.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism