Climate Change is Hurting the Economy
This article is part two of a three part climate change series.
October 29, 2019
Climate change could drastically affect the economy and change the role of industry.
The effects of climate change impact more than just the environment. The World Economic Forum states, “switching to a decarbonized economy will inevitably lead to structural unemployment – at a time when the global economy is weak.” Climate change is hurting the planet, but what do we do when fixing climate change hurts the economy? The World Economic Forum global rally cry is, “There are no jobs on a dead planet.”
Many have witnessed the loss of lives and livelihoods because of extreme weather events and changing seasons. However, Benjamin Denis, of The European TUC stated, “We can’t decarbonise the economy, which is still massively fossil fuel-based, without changing the labour market. That’s why we are calling for a just transition.”
Decarbonisation will have dramatic effects on the workforce and the communities. Building a wind farm or solar energy project takes a different skill set, and there are too few programs to help them retrain. The Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation states, “Fossil fuel demand has been growing for 200 years, but is about to enter structural decline. Entire sectors will struggle to make this transition. They can expect price declines, greater competition, restructuring, stranded assets and market derating.”
Many companies and organizations are helping to transition into a new way of life to help save jobs. For example, the renewable sector in Europe alone could produce 6.1 million new jobs by 2050, according to trade union Sustainlabour. According to The Guardian, former oilman Adriaan Kamp welcomes any attempts governments can make to inspire people to pursue careers in clean energy sectors. “In 2007 to 2008, we were looking at future energy scenarios in the Shell Group [and] there was a question on my desk about how do we play with renewables,” Kamp says. “And from there, the journey started.”
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, despite shifting energy policy, the clean energy economy remains a big source of jobs. The renewable energy sector employs 777,000 people, roughly the same as the U.S. telecommunications industry. The most rapid renewable energy job growth has come from the solar and wind sectors, which rose by 24.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2017.
The Environmental Defense Fund states, “New technology is gaining momentum as solutions for today’s energy problems, and innovative collaborations between the private and public sectors are demonstrating the demand for a clean energy future.”
There will need to be a paradigm shift in the energy sector to protect both the environment and jobs.