Tackling climate change can create jobs

CHANGE IS KEY: Scotland reached the goal – for 24 hours in early August – of running entirely on sustainable power

Roz Paterson looks at a trade union-based plan • It’s not often you read a booklet about climate change and actually feel like whooping with excitement at its vision of the future, but here it is, some uplifting reading at last.

One Million Climate Jobs, published by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group—a group including the FBU, CWS and PCS—rubbishes the idea that responsible environmentalism means spiralling unemployment, crashing economies and gloomy hand-wringing unto eternity.

Instead it insists: “Dangerous climate change is a consequence of the work of the hands and brains of many men and women. It will take the hands and brains of many men and women to undo the damage.”

In other words, there is work to be done, and if we do it right, and soon, we could create around 1.5million jobs and cut CO2 emissions by 86 per cent in 20 years. What did I say about whooping?

Climate change jobs should not be confused with Green jobs, which can include wind turbine-makers, but also park rangers and other good, important things that actually have no bearing on climate change itself.

Climate change jobs impact directly on the issue at hand, either tackling its effects or helping to slow it down. Furthermore, this is a whole new 1.5million, not a hazy figure tacked onto already existing jobs to make 1.5million.

The proposal is that the government will do the hiring, training and employing, as the current patchwork approach of subsidies and tax cuts, designed to tempt private enterprise into the climate change arena clearly isn’t working.

Instead, they envisage an army of retro-fitters tackling the housing stock, public and private, on a street by street basis. No loft will be left uninsulated!

Other lines of work include on and off-shore wind energy; building turbines, transporting and installing them, and finally maintaining them. Tidal, solar and hydro-electric energy will also generate jobs, and help us to reach the goal that Scotland reached, for 24 hours this week, of running entirely on sustainable power.

This should be coupled with a lowering of demand, or energy usage, through more stringent regulation of appliances, so that manufacturers who achieve greater energy efficiency in, for instance, fridges, don’t just blow it by making bigger fridges.

People would be more likely to work towards energy efficiency goals if the government and society at large were doing it too; the example of CFCs, the chemicals used in fridges and aerosols that were found to be damaging the ozone layer, is telling, in that people, worldwide, took action and CFCs were banned. The ozone layer is now recovering nicely, thank you.

Public transport would also provide many jobs, especially if the bus network was doubled. To tempt people onto buses, how about ensuring that they are punctual, plentiful, cheap and fast?

This could be achieved through schemes such as fast tracks on motorways, bus-only lanes, and subsidised routes, creating a positive feedback loop, whereby congestion is eased by people eschewing cars for buses, which can then move faster, encouraging more people to eschew cars, allowing buses to move even faster.

Even air travel can be mitigated to some extent, through offering high-speed rail transport across continental Europe—how about 1000 miles in seven hours? All the way to Spain?—and slower air speed, which is much more fuel-efficient.

As for those who lost their jobs, say in mining or the oil industry, work will be found for them by the ‘National Climate Service’ (NCS), the government body overseeing this revolution in employment and visionary planning—so no one should be left high and dry.

Meaning no one should be in the invidious position of trying to defend an environmentally-damaging industry because it is their only means of making a living.

How much will it all cost? A lot less than our current crash-landing the wrong side of the EU, that’s for sure. The current costing is £66billion, which is rather modest compared to the £500billion the British government coughed up to bail out the banks.

And anyway, the NCS will claw back £25.5million in public transport fares, electricity bills, that sort of thing, and anyway, there will be a further £21.6billion coming back as taxes, from all these newly-employed people.

Not only that, but there will money coming back into the economy as the marginal propensity to spend kicks in. It’s Keaynsian, clever, and concise.

The government that lead us to Brexit will never buy it, of course. But a newly independent Scotland, one that is already energy self-sufficient and heading in a sustainable direction, and maintains positive links with Europe, very well might.

• See campaigncc.org

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