In recent decades, population all over the world has contributed to environmental damage. UNEP reported that since 1970s, we have used more resources than could be regenerated by nature and produced more waste while emitting more greenhouse gasses. As the result of rapid population growth and toxic gasses worsened with current development models and economic activity, humanity has to deal with environmental unsustainability.
Environmental unsustainability could lead to resources termination and higher unemployment rate. Researcher at Our Finite World, Gail Tverberg found that there is a close tie between energy consumption and number of employment. Therefore, as our economic activity and jobs are relying on environmental resources, a stable environment and ecosystem services, we might soon see more job loss and higher unemployment rate if there is no further action taken to fight environmental unsustainability. Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, commented that “we may soon reach to the point in which jobs created or improved by economic development are being destroyed or worsened by resulting environmental degradation. The world of work needs environmental sustainability.”
By achieving environmental sustainability, we can create more jobs. “Green economy will be a major source of job growth in future work,” Ryder explained. Therefore, it is necessary to take action in energy sector to limit global warming. It is time to grow clean, to go green. Sustainable Development Goals are clear in desire to combine decent work for all with environmental sustainability.
“It is time to grow clean, to go green. Sustainable Development Goals are clear in desire to combine decent work for all with environmental sustainability.”– Guy Ryder
Likewise, initiative is needed to help humanity and companies create environmental sustainability. ILO’s report on WESO 2018 leads executive, leaders, and all humanity on how to create environmental sustainability for better and greener world. It quantifies job losses and job creation in transition to green economy based on projection to 2030. It also gives outlook to environmental laws, regulations, and policies that include labour issues. Here is a brief summary on how green environmental sustainability brings better employment and more jobs for the future.
Transition to agriculture sustainability and circular economy will result in better jobs
Transition to green economy will surely cause job losses in certain sectors such as in carbon-intensive industries. Measures taken in production and use of energy will lead to job losses of around 6 million. However, it will also create 24 million more jobs as a result from adoption of sustainable practices. Additionally, to ensure a ‘just transition’, there should be an effort to promote green economy accompanied by policies that facilitate reallocation of workers, advance decent work, offer local solutions, and support displaced workers.
Jobs rely heavily on healthy and stable environment and service
ILO’s study shows how critical environmental sustainability is for planet and employment. The increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters associated with human activity have already lowered productivity. In past years, natural disasters caused or exacerbated by humanity resulted in a global loss of working-life years equivalent to 0.8 percent of a year’s work. Further ahead, the increase of temperature will make heat stress more common. Consequently, it will reduce the total number of working hours by 2.0 per cent globally by 2030 and affecting above all workers in agriculture and in developing countries. The damage associated with unmitigated climate change will therefore undermine GDP growth, productivity, and working conditions. More negative impacts caused by global warming such as local air, water and soil pollution and other forms of environmental degradation affect employee’s health, income, and their productivity. However, all these negative impacts can be reduced by adoption of specific policy measures, including occupational safety and health measures, social protection policies and other actions designed to adapt to a changing environment.
“The transition to a green economy is not only urgent for the sake of the planet but is also compatible with improvements in decent work.”– WESO, greening with job
Moreover, to achieve meaningful cuts efficiency gains, it is important to have a coordination at international levels. To reduce inequality and promote efficiency at workplace, it is necessary to have a coordination between social partners. Additionally, certain mitigation policies such as promoting renewable energy might act as an incentive for enterprises to develop and adopt more efficient technology, thereby boosting employment in key occupations, as well as productivity. Adaptation policies can also create jobs at the local level.
Legal framework can provide incentives for greening economy while ensuring decent work
Legal standards can promote progress towards decent work during and beyond transition to environmental sustainability. International labour standards usually provide a social pillar for green economy that can help ensure decent working conditions.
Synergies between social protection and environmental policy can support both employees’ income and green transition
Social protection systems are first line of protection against negative effects on income of different risks, including those stemming from climate change and local environmental degradation. The systems support economy by stabilising household incomes. Additionally, unemployment protection schemes and cash transfer programmes play a critical role in supporting workers facing job loss related either to the transition to environmental sustainability or to a natural disaster. They facilitate the transition to new jobs, particularly when combined with skills development and job placement or relocation measures. In addition, access to safe and regular labour migration opportunities can foster economic diversification and increase adaptive capacity through remittances and skills transfer. Cash transfer programmes contribute to preventing poverty and reducing the vulnerability of households and communities. A policy mix comprising cash transfers, stronger social insurance, and use of fossil fuels limitation could also lead to faster economic growth, stronger employment creation, a fairer income distribution, and importantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.