Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2017 Contents commentary A17
Monday, June 5, 2017 guardian.co.tt
POLITICAL WILL CAN
ASSURE A GREENER FUTURE
Director-General of the International
Labour Organization (ILO)
Climate change is the result of
human activity. That activity
is, for the most part, work or
work-related. It is only logical then
that the world of work has a key
role to play in finding a solution to
this pressing issue.
The power of climate change to dam-
age infrastructure, disrupt businesses
and destroy jobs and livelihoods has
been well-demonstrated. We are con-
fronted with these challenges on an un-
precedented scale and on a daily basis.
Both businesses and workers are
being affected. This is particularly the
case for the working poor, the self-em-
ployed, and those in informal, seasonal
and casual work, who often lack ade-
quate social protection and who have
limited alternative income opportu-
nities. They are also highly dependent
on climate sensitive resources, such as
local water and food supplies.
But the world does not have to
choose between job creation and pre-
serving the environment. Environmen-
tal sustainability is a must, including
from a labour market perspective.
True, on the way to a more sustain-
able economy many types of jobs that
exist today---especially in highly pollut-
ing or energy intensive activities---will
disappear. Others will be replaced or
adapted. But new jobs will be created
Greener economies can be engines
of growth, both in advanced and de-
veloping economies. They can gener-
ate decent green jobs that contribute
significantly to climate mitigation and
adaptation, but also to poverty eradica-
tion and social inclusion.
This trend is already under way. The
International Renewable Energy Agen-
cy says that in 2015 employment in
renewable energy reached 8.1 million,
a five per cent increase over the previ-
ous year. Sectors like forestry, energy,
recycling, transport and agriculture are
likely to gain a lot from the transition to
a green economy.
According to the Food and Agricul-
ture Organization, a shift to more sus-
tainable practices in agriculture---which
includes a high proportion of the global
workforce and where decent work defi-
cits are widespread and severe---has
the potential to create over 200 million
more full-time jobs by 2050.
But the challenge is not just about
creating more jobs. It's the quality of
those jobs that counts, too. Sustainable
development must be pursued in full
regard to its social and economic di-
mensions, not only its environmental
consequences. Otherwise the transition
to a green economy will be anything
How do we get there?
If our aim is a successful, just transi-
tion to a green economy, then we need
predictable and appropriate regulation.
Governments must work closely with
employers' and workers' organisations
to ensure this happens. In fact, this
will be one of the main issues under
discussion at the International Labour
Conference, which begins today.
Skills development and social pro-
tection are two further ingredients for
a just transition, as they have a proven
record in facilitating socially acceptable
and beneficial change at work.
Finally, climate change does not
respect borders nor institutional silos.
We need governments and the different
organisations of the multilateral sys-
tem working together coherently for
common objectives. This is necessary
not only to achieve a just transition
but most importantly to achieve all 17
inter-related goals of the UN 2030 De-
Ignoring climate change will even-
tually damage economic growth. That
was the stark warning issued by the
UK's Stern Review over a decade ago.
Since then, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has
found incontrovertible evidence that
human-induced climate change is well
under way and warned of the conse-
quences of failing to limit global tem-
perature rise to at most 2° Celsius over
This bleak outlook is confirmed by
many other studies, including the ILO's
Global Linkages model, which predicts
a drop in productivity levels of 2.4 per
cent by 2030 and 7.2 per cent by 2050
under the business as usual scenario.
The positive news is that we know
where we want to go and how to get
there. The Paris Agreement (in which
the international community agreed
to keep the global temperature rise
this century well below 2° Celsius over
pre-industrial levels) and the 2030
Development Agenda have defined the
intended destination, and a just transi-
tion towards environmentally sustain-
able economies and societies has been
accepted as a key reference point for the
route to be taken.
But knowing the destination and
the road to follow is not enough. We
need the political will to keep us going.
A greener future will not be decent by
default, but by design. So let's not just
mark World Environment Day. Let's
make it a reason to put our political will
into action. The future of our jobs, and
of our children, relies on it.
True, on the way to a more sustainable economy many types of
jobs that exist today---especially in highly polluting or energy
intensive activities---will disappear. Others will be replaced or
adapted. But new jobs will be created as well.
Greener economies can be engines of growth, both in advanced
and developing economies. They can generate decent green
jobs that contribute significantly to climate mitigation and
adaptation, but also to poverty eradication and social inclusion.
"As our circle
so does the
--- Albert Einstein
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