CLIMATE change provides a major threat to more than a billion workers, as well as opportunities to create employment for millions around the world if addressed correctly, according to a new report.
The World Employment and Social Outlook 2018 released in May by the International Labour Organization (ILO) claimed that at least 1.2 billion people rely on a healthy and sustainable environment in their work – particularly those in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
Climate change poses grave risks to future employment. The ILO reported that 23 million working life years have been lost to natural disasters since 2000, and climate change will see disasters occur more frequently and with greater severity.
Around 2 percent of total working hours – the equivalent of 72 million fulltime jobs – will be lost by 2030 due to heat stress, it said.
“The effects of environmental degradation on the world of work are particularly acute for the most vulnerable workers,” read the report. “Rural workers, people in poverty, indigenous and tribal peoples and other disadvantaged groups are affected the most by the impact of climate change.”
As such, climate change and environmental degradation further exacerbate global inequality, which has risen sharply in recent decades.
According to the World Inequality Report 2018, the top 1 percent of individuals have captured twice as much income growth as the bottom 50 percent since 1980. This means “environmental sustainability is also an issue of social justice,” said the ILO.
It claimed that 18 million more jobs would be created if the world could meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping the increase in global temperatures to just 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The ILO projected that while shifts away from carbon and resource intensive industries toward greener technology would see 6 million jobs lost in the short-term, it would also see the creation of 24 million jobs, “meriting complementary policies to protect workers and ensure that the transition is just.”
Some 23 countries have already succeeded in growing their economies while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their environmental footprint, the report’s authors said.
Cambodia, for example, since 2013 has mainstreamed green growth into its national economic development plan and employment legislation.
Mongolia, meanwhile, identifies “green employment” as a priority, aiming to provide income to 80 percent of its working age population through decent employment and to increase resilience to the negative impacts of climate change.
“Low-income and some middle-income countries need support to develop data collection, identify and adopt best practices, strengthen implementation and finance both mitigation and adaptation strategies in order to achieve a just transition to environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all,” concluded the report.