Results of ETUC Climate Change and Employment study now available

(03 August 2007) A study carried out for the European Commission by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Social Development Agency, Syndex (France), Wuppertal Institute (Germany) and Istas (Spain) reveals that climate change
and climate change mitigation policies represent a serious and unprecedented challenge for employment in Europe. A representative of EPSU participated in the working groups of the project and made a major contribution on the GreenforSure project in the Netherlands to the final ETUC Conference.

The anticipated job gains and losses are sizeable. No sector can afford to ignore the consequences of climate change, whether they feel the direct impact of global warming or have to suffer or deal with the consequences - either positive or negative - of the measures taken to combat it. The report first examines the potential consequences for employment of global warming in Europe. The second half of the report considers the effect on employment of the transition towards a lower CO2 European economy by 2030 in four key economic sectors: energy production, transport, the steel and cement industries, and construction/housing. In addition, extensive case studies have been carried out for eleven EU Member states. The research's point of departure is the ambitious target of 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by the year 2030 compared with a 1990 baseline.

The study's main results can be summarised as follows:

1. Even moderate climate change (of the order of 2°C warming) will affect activity, employment and working conditions in Europe.

2. In the European Union, compared to a business-as-usual scenario, policies and measures to reduce EU CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 will probably not have a negative net impact on employment, but rather a slightly positive one.

3. Net impact on economic activity and employment strongly depends on ambitiousness and effectiveness of appropriate economic and social policies put in place.

4. Mitigation policies will substantially change the supply and demand of jobs and qualifications within and between sectors.

5. The sector-specific impact on employment must be assessed in terms of ‘opportunities' and ‘risks' rather than of ‘winning' and ‘loosing' sectors. In each sector, jobs will be created in companies that can take advantage of opportunities created by climate policies and jobs will be lost in companies that cannot adapt.

6. Sectoral study findings can be summarised as follow:

Employment in the energy production sector is sensitive to energy-saving policies. For the whole economy, however, the net effect of energy savings on employment would be positive.
Climate policies could significantly accelerate jobs relocation in the already largely internationalised energy intensive industries, like steel, unless a specific and coherent strategy is put in place for those industries avoiding carbon leakage and taking advantage of emission reduction potentials in these sectors.

Transport offers huge potential for job creation in rail and public transport. On the other hand, employment in freight and passenger transport by road, and the whole automobile sector, might decline compared with the business-as-usual scenario, while remaining stable at today's levels.
The building/construction sector represents a very important source of employment linked to energy efficiency of buildings, but the professionals will have to meet the challenges of innovation and training in ‘sustainable building'.

Based on these findings, the study recommends that robust action on climate change in the EU should be based upon four crucial elements:

- The immediate implementation of the policy options which are the most effective in delivering the double dividend of the fight against climate change and the creation of quality jobs;

- ‘Employment transition programmes' with adequate funding and negotiated with the social partners, to anticipate, control and manage the social changes led by the adaptation and mitigation policies;

- The opening up of a European social dialogue and collective bargaining instruments adapted to the stakes of climate change;

- The setting up of a European observatory on the economic and social upheavals linked with climate change.

ETUC Study Climate Change and Employment (in English, French and Spanish):

The study's full report, summary and country case studies are available for download in PDF format.

The contributions to the final conference are available at the Green4Sure

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