Climate Change Could Be Good News For The Economy (But There Is A Catch)

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Most stories about climate change are filled with doom and gloom but the impending environmental apocalypse may have a small sliver of a silver lining. According to a report from the people at the International Labour Organization, the rapid warming of our planet may just turn out to be a really great job generator.

The onerous task of tackling climate change could create 24 million new jobs worldwide in under 12 years, potentially offsetting any job losses related to environmental changes. To break things down further, 6 million additional jobs may arise from our need to cut down waste and improve management of the planet's resources, and a further 18 million could come from a greener and more sustainable energy sector. 

There is, of course, a but. Climate change can help create an additional 24 million extra jobs *but* only if the Paris Agreement goals are met. This means keeping global temperatures from rising 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels before 2100 – a goal that, according to all the latest research, we are not on track to meet.

And if we don't meet those goals, it's extremely likely we'll see a steep drop both in employment and productivity (not to mention the economy). Already we can observe declines in production caused by more disastrous natural disasters, which seem to be happening at a faster and faster rate. Between 2000 and 2015, natural disasters either caused or made worse by human activity decreased production rates by 0.8 percent of a year's work. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach 2 percent.

The good news is that we are seeing this shift to green energy and more sustainable practices, if not quite at the speed needed to achieve the Paris goals just yet. As of 2017, solar power became the world's fastest-growing source of energy, largely thanks to China. In 2016, the solar power industry alone employed more than twice the number of people that coal, oil, and gas combined. And, according to the AWEA,  solar photovoltaic installers are the fastest growing profession right now, followed by wind turbine service technicians.

To continue this trajectory and ensure an overall positive net effect on job numbers, the authors urge for more proactive policy measures that help redirect workers to eco-friendly careers.

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