Justin Pothoof: A "Just Transition" From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy; Creation, Substitution, and Elimination of Jobs
It appears that the more time we spend out of the United States, the more we learn about it. Though we don’t have adequate representation at COP23, there is still a lot of talk about making a “just transition” to clean and renewable energy. Today, my colleagues and I attended a discussion lead by Moustapha Kamal Gueye, the Coordinator of the ILD Green Jobs Programme, in which he discussed the future of green jobs as well as jobs focused around fossil fuels. As Gueye described, a “just transition” is one where the individuals negatively affected by a transition to clean energy are properly cared for. This transition would entail a few important policies to be implemented: proper social security, technical skill training or retraining programs, and “tripartite” social dialogue, which means that the conversation is jointly between the government, the employer, and the workers.
President Trump has offered his support for the fossil fuel industry, in hopes of creating more jobs for Americans, but a transition to renewable energy would result in an estimated net increase of 60 million jobs when compared to the fossil fuel industry, with jobs offered in multiple skill levels. Technicians will be required for solar panels, wind turbines, as well as maintenance workers, engineers, etc. It is important to consider three different points when considering this transition: new jobs will be created, some jobs will be substituted or transformed, and others will be completely eliminated. In addition, while more jobs will become available, location also matters. Locations that are more focused on renewables will benefit from the switch to a focus on clean energy, while areas that have relied on fossil fuels for revenue may face a deficit in job numbers. It is apparent that our country is not at this point yet, and it seems that we have put an emphasis on a general education through college degrees rather than focusing on technical skills that can enable one to be an expert in construction, manufacturing, architecture, among other fields that will be essential for a “just transition.” Do we need to revolutionize our education system, which has been accused of being outdated? Do we need to change how the social dialogue occurs; should workers be a part of the discussion? What do you think?
If you’d like to learn more about the economics regarding a just transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, skim through the document linked below: