Jonathan Neale, Daily Maverick, 29 October, 2017.
We have been living through a persisting global economic crisis. A global crisis of climate change is happening at the same time. In South Africa we face the reality of a massive jobs crisis. We need solutions to all three. Urgently. By JONATHAN NEALE.
A new 64-page report – One Million Climate Jobs: Moving South Africa forward towards a low-carbon, wage-led, and sustainable path – by the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC) provides the detail, with extensive research citations, showing how this can be done and financed. The focus is on South Africa, but the remedies are broadly replicable across the globe.
The whole world is full of voices saying there is a stark choice between jobs and action on climate. In South Africa, they tell us to choose between jobs for coal miners and saving the planet.
The either/or choice is misconceived. There are many immediately available alternatives – with (insufficiently recognised) sources of finance available.
These alternatives include:
- A decent public-sector job or monthly government grant for everyone who loses their job because of a shift to renewable energy.
- Monthly government grants for every subsistence farmer who loses their livelihood because of climate change.
- Creating a million jobs by a determined tackling of climate change.
The urgency of climate change makes meeting these needs urgent. The most serious of the climate changes include:
Drought, heat and storms kill – and will increasingly kill –crops. In the economic system we live in, that means famines.
Rising sea levels and terrible storms flood and ruin – and will increasingly flood and ruin – many of the world’s cities. The recent floods in Johannesburg and Durban and the havoc in Durban Harbour are timely harbingers…
And, as climate change bites, poor rural people will need more land, and better land. Land reform is their second requirement.
Everywhere, there is the need for jobs. Private companies and the market have created unemployment. A publicly-driven attack on climate change can create a million climate jobs.
We need to cut emissions from burning coal, oil and gas by 90%. Instead of cutting back on production and consumption – the standard expectations – we can stop burning coal and gas. We can make almost all our electricity from wind and solar power.
We can provide buses and cars that are comfortable, fast, reliable and cheap. While taking many cars off the roads, we can run cars, buses and trains on renewable electricity, not oil.
We can insulate houses so they lose less energy. We can heat homes with solar energy. We can build millions of new public houses that are heated and cooled with renewable electricity.
We can transform industry and agriculture to use less energy.
And, to do all this, will create at least a million jobs.
Renewable Energy 250,000 jobs
Public Transport 390,000 jobs
Construction 200,000 jobs
Agriculture 100,000 jobs
Waste, Industry and Education 110,000 jobs
TOTAL 1,000,000 jobs
With those jobs, research shows we can cut South Africa’s climate changing emissions by at least 75% in 20 years.