EU's climate strategy can spur 'just' and resilient labour market

On the eve of the release of the EU's recovery strategy, a group of business leaders have called for the bloc's climate-neutral target to be coupled with a "just transition" that could deliver job growth against future climate, demographic and technological megatrends.

The report notes that the UK offshore wind sector could have significant future employment potential and could act as an alternative for offshore oil and gas workers

The report notes that the UK offshore wind sector could have significant future employment potential and could act as an alternative for offshore oil and gas workers

The European Corporate Leaders Group (CLG Europe) has today (28 April) outlined how the EU’s climate-neutrality goal can alleviate the negative impacts of disruptive future megatrends. The group has called for jobs and skills to be at the heart of the EU’s climate-neutral target for 2050.

CLG Europe issued a new report that has modelled the impacts of key megatrends, namely the growth in AI technology, globalisation, changing demographics and resource scarcity and environmental sustainability, and how they would impact Europe’s labour market and its efforts to transition to a net-zero economy.

The report found that tailoring low-carbon policies around specific industries can help the European labour market by offsetting any job losses from digitalisation and transitioning away from carbon-intensive processes. In fact, in a best-case scenario, employment can grow by around 1% while still reaching the EU’s contribution to the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

Director of CLG Europe, Eliot Whittington, said: "This report shows that in a changing world, a well-designed transition to a net-zero economy can help the jobs market cope with the damaging effects from megatrends like technology development and globalisation that threaten to destroy jobs. This should inform governments on the design and implementation of their stimulus and recovery plans to address the economic impacts of Covid-19."

The report notes that the UK offshore wind sector could have significant future employment potential and could act as an alternative for offshore oil and gas workers. Elsewhere, the German automotive sector’s efforts to shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) will change supply chains across Europe and lead to job losses. However, it could lead to “employment net-gains” by boosting the labour market across the electricity, infrastructure development, services and manufacturing sectors.

Calls to action

Earlier this month, business members of CLG Europe joined the European Parliament, policymakers and NGOs in forming an alliance for a "green recovery" of the European economy that assists with the ongoing fight against the climate crisis.

The alliance commits signatories to work collaboratively to create and deliver bespoke post-crisis green investment packages to help the pan-European economy market recover, while also mobilising plans that place climate change mitigation and biodiversity at the heart of any stimulus plans.

Many experts are expecting “retaliatory emissions” to occur when nations are allowed to ramp up production once lockdown measures are relaxed. It is for this reason that the Green Recovery plan and the EU’s wider Green New Deal movement could be crucial to ensuring that the economy is recovered and restructured in a way that doesn’t lead to an increase in emissions.

At a European level, the Green New Deal has recently been enshrined and includes a 50-55% emissions reduction target for 2030; a climate law to reach net-zero emissions by 2050; a transition fund worth €100bn and a series of new sector policies to ensure all industries are able to decarbonise. The transition fund is largely what sets a Green Deal apart from a climate target, as it also aims to drive fair and just societal prosperity.

The EU has since launched a consultation on its “Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy”, part of a €1trn package to make the European economy greener by 2030, promising that green finance will act as a “key focus” of any economic recovery plan from the coronavirus.

EurActiv has reported that the European Commission's Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, has assured EU lawmakers that "every euro" spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions.

In a recent feature, edie outlined ‘Why the Green New Deal is the perfect response for the post-Covid-19 economy’, featuring comments from renowned climate authors and academic experts.

Matt Mace



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