Green jobs and green energy – The Daily Star

How long does the world have until climate change irreversibly changes our planet for the worse? A new “climate clock” installed at Manhattan’s Union Square by artists Andrew Boyd and Gan Golan is counting down the amount of time left to achieve net-zero emissions before the effects of carbon emissions from energy use alter the future of this planet. According to climate scientists, an increase in global temperature (caused by greenhouse gases produced by human activity) will lead to higher sea levels, more flooding, intense wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and a rise in other natural disasters. A 2019 report by NASA on global climate change warns that an increase in global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius will lead to melting ice, species and biodiversity loss and extinction, food insecurity, heat-related and vector-borne illnesses and economic losses from climate change.
The use of energy (which is currently derived from fossil fuels at disproportionately high rates) is at the core of our modern, global economy. We use energy to power our homes, schools, offices, and factories, to drive our vehicles and transports, to produce our clothes and most essential items, among other activities. However, given the catastrophic impact of climate change and the role of carbon emission from burning extractive energy sources such as fossil fuels in driving such impacts, it is increasingly important for our planet and our economies to be calibrated towards transitioning into renewable energy that will lower emissions. Renewable energy can not only solve the rapidly worsening climate crisis, but it can also facilitate in creating more jobs within an economy, leading to higher wellbeing and a thriving global economy.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports that renewable energy sectors are primed to create higher employment opportunities than traditional fossil fuel industries as they tend to have “longer and more diverse supply chains, higher labour intensity, and increased net profit margins”. These jobs can be created through the production and distribution of equipment and other inputs as well as through services like project operation, installation, and management. Renewable energy can not only create new jobs, but it can also create better and more decent jobs by expanding the scope for better working conditions and creating opportunities for dialogue between workers and employees. It can also create possibilities for greater economic activities in other sectors—for example, it can accelerate economic activity in the agricultural sector by increasing the demand for biomass. Moreover, simple economic principles can also be the driving force behind fossil-to-clean energy transition. Building and maintaining new green energy plants are far more cost-effective than fossil fuel plants, creating more demand for workers and raising job opportunities. A green energy sector is currently booming in the US—around 3.3 million people are working in the sector, outnumbering total fossil fuel jobs in the country.
Expanding the renewable energy sector portends more job opportunities; however, the challenges associated with transitioning into it also need to be addressed. Although there are concerns with fossil fuel jobs being phased out and replaced with green energy jobs, research suggests that falling employment in these industries will be offset by the rising employment in the renewable sector.  Another issue is ensuring the just transition of a labour market into the green energy sector which necessitates the flexibility of the labour force. As such, transitioning to a new industry will also require new training and opportunities for retraining and supplementary upskilling opportunities, along with possibilities for transition for workers in extractive energy industries as well as focusing efforts on retaining workers and their expertise within the industry.
Despite the promise of higher employment and greater economic growth and wellbeing with renewable energy transition, conversations around this issue inflict doubt and scepticism about the viability of green energy to ensure sustained economic growth. There is a pervasive myth in policy discussions which indicate that higher growth cannot be separated from soaring greenhouse emissions, especially as countries in the Global South (a term which refers to lower, middle- income, and emerging national economies) are rapidly industrialising their economies, leading to more carbon emissions.
However, the concept of eco-economic decoupling in economic and environmental fields suggests that an economy can achieve economic growth without resorting to corresponding carbon emissions and environmental pressures through adopting relevant policies and technologies. Dr Narasimha Rao at Yale University, whose research examines the relationship between energy systems, human development and climate change, demonstrates that the choice between economic growth and lowering emissions is often a false dichotomy. Traditional economic thinking centres economic growth and wellbeing around metrics like GDP that do not measure the sense of wellbeing and equality within an economy; thus, he suggests moving towards a more holistic definition of growth that focuses on ensuring justice—social, economic, and environmental. According to Dr Rao, reducing inequality—both between countries and within them—is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of climate change. Economic growth does not need to be energy-intensive. Instead, it is possible to create opportunities for energy-efficient economic growth in developing countries through expanding renewable energy sectors, which in turn can lead to policies and technologies that protect the environment, create jobs, and elevate people’s quality of life. 
The “Climate Clock” ticking away at Manhattan showed that at the time of writing, humans have a little over seven years to reverse the future that unfettered climate change and environmental degradation will inflict on the planet. Transitioning into a renewable energy economy is a key part of the solution to the challenges posed by climate change. It is also the solution that is more positioned to create higher employment, a dynamic economy, and one that will allow greater wellbeing while keeping our planet safe.
Bijetri Tasnuva Pronomi is Executive Director, The Blue Sky Charitable Foundation ( BSCF).
লোকসানের কারণে সরকার গত বছর থেকে দেশের ১৫টি চিনিকলের মধ্যে ৬টির উৎপাদন বন্ধ ঘোষণা করার পর মাথায় হাত পড়েছে এসব চিনিকলের উপর নির্ভরশীল আখ চাষিদের। উৎপাদন বন্ধ হয়ে যাওয়ায় অযত্নে অবহেলায় পড়ে রয়েছে…


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