Climate change action and the transition to a low carbon economy: IOE updates

Summary of recent developments and employers' engagement in the context of recent meetings and conferences

The OECD Green Growth and Sustainable Development (GGSD) Forumin Paris on 27 November 2018 addressed “Inclusive Solutions for the Green Transition: Competitiveness, jobs and social dimensions” ( With the support of BIAC, the IOE provided the employment and business perspective  in the opening session, as well as the key business messages in discussions on jobs and green growth, and skills transition management.

Climate action and the shift to low-carbon economies have consequences for labour markets; jobs will be transformed or replaced, and transition and adaptation measures will also create new jobs, e.g. in renewables, energy efficiency, and waste management, etc. The ILO estimates that 18 million new jobs will be created by 2030. Adaptation policies may result in employment losses, but also  may incentivise enterprises to develop or adopt more efficient production methods.

However, the implementation of environmental policies raises uncertainties for the private sector. Developing technologies to decarbonise remains a challenge in several industries and implementing new technologies is often not yet cost-effective, or even possible. In addition, without growth and job creation, there will be less room of manoeuvre for financing environmental protection. As primary job providers, businesses can be part of the solution, but they need a consistent and friendly policy and regulatory framework to play their full role in achieving a low-carbon economy, as well as support in understanding the likely impacts of policy measures on jobs and competitiveness.

One major challenge lies in identifying the skills needed in the future to meet market demands in the transition to greener economies. This calls for policies enabling employability and skills development programmes. While businesses take leadership in re-skilling and upskilling, governments in collaboration with education and training institutions should promote the skills needed to thrive in the face of transformative change. Another critical issue are the social protection measures that may be needed to build resilience, increase adaptive capabilities, and facilitate the transition to new jobs. Proposed mechanisms should be affordable, adaptable, and sustainable, in line with national specificities. The focus of any plan of action should be on balancing support to the individuals and enterprises that are the most adversely affected by the transition.

It should be noted that the topic of a just transition is becoming mainstream. It was also a priority for Poland at the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice on 2-14 December 2018, stemming from the past experiences of the coal industry, and from pressure by domestic and global trade unions. The Polish Presidency delivered a Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration (available for download in the Resources box) to UNFCCC Parties which has important references to ILO guidance. Though non-binding, this could lead to decent work and just transition being integrated into the implementation of climate change commitments and relevant reporting processes. The COP24 took stock of the collective achievements of the Parties in their efforts to meet the agreed objectives and mainly provides a Rulebook for countries to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. Business demonstrated the positive actions that it is taking to raise ambitions to reduce emissions as well as to increase investments at numerous events during the climate talks. Many IOE members, including CGEM (Morocco), FCEF (Fiji), Keidanren (Japan), USCIB (US), are represented in side-events co-organised by the ILO, and other business groups, BizMEF (Major Economies Business Forum) and ICC, to deliver key business messages.

Finally, we would like to draw your attention to the West & Central Africa Employers' Organisations conference, in Conakry, Guinea on 12-13 December, co-organised by the IOE and our member the National Council of Employers of Guinea (CNP-Guinée), to bring members and other experts together for an exploration of the theme “Green Economy and Sustainable Development: how to accelerate growth and job creation? Keep an eye out for our report of this meeting, coming soon!

Kind regards,

Pierre Vincensini

IOE address

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