Meeting Paris Agreement’s Goals might Result in Additional 8 Million Jobs in Energy Sector

Achieving the Paris Agreement’s global climate target of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius will necessitate a major increase in low-carbon energy production and the phase-out of fossil fuels. This move is likely to have a significant impact on energy jobs, with fossil fuel jobs dropping while new energy industry employment rises. But, when compared to existing policy options, how will the attempt to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius affect energy industry jobs? This is a question that the world needs to address. 

Researchers sponsored by the EU-funded NAVIGATE and ENGAGE projects created a worldwide data set of job footprints in 50 countries in an attempt to provide an explanation. Previously, studies based their estimates of changes in energy jobs in the rest of the world on statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s member countries. In nations like Brazil, India, Mexico, and Nigeria, as well as major fossil fuel-producing economies like the United States, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, the current analysis incorporates worldwide employment statistics across 11 energy technologies and 5 job categories. 

Currently, an estimated 18 million people work in the energy sector, with that figure expected to rise to 26 million, or by more than 50%, if global climate targets are met. Manufacturing and installation of renewable energy sources could account for around a third of these jobs, for which countries can compete on location as well. 

According to the analysis, in the well-below 2 °C scenario, renewable energy would account for 84 % of all energy jobs in 2050, with fossil fuels accounting for 11% and nuclear energy accounting for 5%. Gains in solar and wind jobs, particularly in solar and wind manufacturing, would compensate for job losses in fossil fuel extraction. 

Because jobs in the extraction sector are more vulnerable to decarbonization, there must be fair transition measures in place. Manufacturing jobs, for example, will be essential in locations where decarbonization is rampant. Because of their history and high rates of unionization, among other things, fossil fuel employees often wield political power. As the globe transitions to low-carbon energy sources, it is critical to have a strategy in place to ensure that climate policies are widely accepted.