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Meeting Paris Agreement emissions reduction target may generate 8M jobs

Meeting Paris Agreement emissions reduction target may generate 8M jobs
Efforts to meet the emissions reduction targets set by the Paris Agreement will result in the creation of millions of green energy jobs, according to a new study. File Photo by UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

July 23 (UPI) -- Study after study suggests the world's largest economies aren't doing enough to meet the emissions reduction targets set by the Paris Agreement.

To limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists agree that more aggressive actions need to be taken.

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According to a new study, such actions would not only help the planet and its inhabitants avoid deadly heatwaves, prolonged droughts and extreme weather, but also generate jobs -- roughly 8 million by 2050.

The analysis, published Friday in the journal One Earth, showed job growth would be concentrated in the wind and solar power industries.

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For the study, scientists looked at the job landscape in 50 countries and developed a model to predict how green energy growth is likely to impact different sectors of the labor market.

"Currently, an estimated 18 million people work in the energy industries -- a number that is likely to increase, not decrease, to 26 million or by over 50% if we reach our global climate targets," study corresponding author Johannes Emmerling said in a press release.

"Manufacturing and installation of renewable energy sources could potentially become about one third of the total of these jobs, for which countries can also compete in terms of location," said Emmerling, an environmental economist at the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment in Italy.

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Instead of simply applying a multiplier to basic jobs figures from OECD countries, scientists used more detailed jobs data from a diversity of nations, as well as a more sophisticated integrated assessment model.

The model illuminated the ways a nation's political choices about how to address climate change can influence growth in different energy sectors.

"The energy transition is increasingly being studied with very detailed models, spatial resolutions, timescales, and technological details," Emmerling said.

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"Yet, the human dimension, energy access, poverty, and also distributional and employment implications are often considered at a high level of detail. We contributed to this gap by collecting and applying a large dataset across many countries and technologies that can also be used in other applications," Emmerling said.

Simulations showed that if nations take the necessary steps to approach carbon neutrality and achieve the emissions reduction targets by the Paris Agreement, 84% of energy jobs will concentrated in the renewables sector by 2050.

Just 11% of energy jobs will be in fossil fuels, while employment in the nuclear sector will account for 5% of energy jobs.

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Researchers suggest it's important for policy makers to understand how efforts to reduce carbon emissions will impact the energy jobs so steps can be taken to prepare workers in the fossil fuel industry for employment in green energy sectors.

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Understanding the shifting dynamics of employment in different energy sectors can also help leaders address political obstacles to emissions reductions efforts.

"In many cases, fossil fuel workers also hold political influence because of their history and high rates of unionization, among others," study first author Sandeep Paisaid in the press release.

"So as we move to low carbon sources, it is important to have a plan in place for the general acceptability of climate policies," said Paisaid, who recently earned a doctoral degree in resources, environment and sustainability from the University of British Columbia.

In followup studies, the researchers said they hope to model the effects of carbon reduction efforts on wages.

Scientists also want to determine what types of skills training and education will be needed to meet shifting labor demands as green energy sectors grow.

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