Looking into a carbon-neutral future - Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Working towards a climate-neutral Europe - jobs and skills

Work is at the heart of our economy, and Covid-19 has shown that labour markets can be transformed in the blink of an eye. The spread of the virus into a global pandemic has led to a healthcare crisis with tragic implications for thousands of people, forcing countries to adopt lockdown measures – closing schools, shops and factories. This has resulted in a sharp decline in economic activity and a steep increase in unemployment claims.  

A new report from the European Corporate Leaders Group cites the results of a forthcoming modelling study analysing impacts of major megatrends on Europe’s labour market in the context of the continent’s transition to a low-carbon economy.  

The findings show that effective, tailored decarbonisation policies can help build a European labour market that is more resilient to the future economic impacts expected from technological change, globalisation, demographic change and resource scarcity. With well-designed policies, Europe could maintain employment levels in the face of the combined impact of the megatrends, but without that strong policy response it could see job losses of up to nearly 10 per cent by 2030 and 30 per cent by 2050. 

The megatrends affecting our world – including climate change – have the ability to make disruption the new normal; scrambling to respond from scratch to each new crisis cannot be our game plan. Policymakers have started to grasp the range and depth of actions they need to take, but greater coherence is still needed. We are moving rapidly and inexorably into a much more complex world, and the Covid-19 crisis is offering us a sobering snapshot of a future we have both the knowledge and tools to temper substantially.  

More and more voices are now setting out the need for the efforts supporting an economic recovery to be completely aligned with efforts to decarbonise our economy. From the UK’s best academic experts to CEOs of some of the biggest energy-related companies in the world, a consensus is developing that the best and only route forward is to address both challenges head on.

Eliot Whittington is Director of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s Corporate Leaders Groups – leading the team behind both the Corporate Leaders Group Europe (CLG Europe) and The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) in the UK. Eliot’s work has a strong focus on climate change, but he also helps drive action on the circular economy, plastics and issues around the social and justice implications of economic change.


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