The Sustainable Economy, the Just Transition and Covid-19
As we continue to tackle the pandemic, there’s another health crisis we must face head-on – that of our planet. The California wildfires raging right now, along with other recent warning signs, make that abundantly clear.
However, whilst our action on climate change must be swift and decisive, we must ensure workers in polluting industries aren’t left behind in the process. This is known as the ‘Just Transition’.
The Sustainable Economy
To restore and protect the health of our planet, we must build sustainable or ‘circular’ economies. In simple terms, this is a system that creates everything we need from resources and materials that can be renewed and reused.
To do this, we must end our reliance on fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and replace them with greener energy sources like wind and solar power. This would help us to reach ‘net zero’, where the amount of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) that we take out of the atmosphere offsets what we put in. The aim is to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as scientists believe that this would avoid the most harmful and destructive effects of climate change on our environment.
The Just Transition
The issue with dismantling the oil, coal and natural gas industries to tackle climate change is that they create lots of jobs. Therefore, an abrupt or careless transition will snatch away many people’s livelihoods. This must not happen.
One possible solution to this lies within the building of the new, green economy. The transition will take a lot of work – building and maintaining offshore wind farms, installing solar panels, and many other things. Therefore, it could provide jobs for workers in polluting industries, thereby reducing global warming and economic inequality in one go. There’s certainly scope for it – The International Renewable Energy Agency has calculated that more than 17 million jobs could be created in the renewable energy sector globally in the next 10 years. Such a transition will require careful management, but there’s no denying it’s a golden opportunity.
The decline of polluting industries was already happening, but the pandemic has accelerated it. We’ve had time to stop, think and look around at what is happening to our environment, and the increase in remote working has reduced our reliance on petrol-fuelled vehicles.
As we mentioned in a previous post, by bringing life as we knew it to a halt Covid-19 is a possible turning point for our society and our natural world, because it gives us an opportunity to reshape them into something greener, fairer and better.
More pressingly, many workers in these industries have lost their jobs because of the toll that the pandemic has taken on the economy. This opens up a demand for new work that utilises their skills and expertise.
What must happen
Climate change is an urgent and accelerating threat to our planet and way of life, and we must fix it now. But we must do so in a way that creates sustainable jobs for those who will be affected by the changes. A Just Transition won’t be easy, but if we get it right, the rewards will be huge.
At A Better Planet, we’re passionate about environmental justice and determined to play our part. If you’re bringing about positive change to our society and the planet we share, we’d love to help you get your message out there, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.