Call: Climate Jobs are an Idea whose Time has Come

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown what happens when governments ignore scientific warnings. Terrible as that has been, the effects of climate change will be far worse. We need to act now.

Humanity faces an environmental crisis and an economic crisis. Unemployment is rising at dizzying speed. We will need Green New Deals to put very large numbers of people back to work, fix our health and care systems, and meet human needs. Climate jobs must be a central part of this.

On the one hand, we need to do a thousand things to halt climate change. But by far the most important is to stop burning coal, oil and gas. These fossil fuels are now used for electricity, transport, heating and industry. We can, and must, cut those emissions by at least 95%.

However, humans will still need heat, energy, shelter, transport and material goods. This is especially so for the billions still without the essential basics of the 21 st century. So as we close down the old, we must build new alternatives. That’s where climate jobs come in.

On the other hand, the world is entering into recession and financial crisis at a dizzying pace. It is clear that governments in many countries will now offer hundreds of billions, and probably trillions of dollars, to rescue troubled banks, oil companies, aviation companies, and other corporations. The workers in those industries will be laid off. We need to spend that money on climate jobs for workers, a stimulus that can help human beings who need jobs, instead of bankers and share prices.

When we say “climate jobs”, we don’t just mean any worthwhile green job. We mean jobs that lead directly to cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases. The main jobs in most countries will be in renewable energy, building smart grids, public transport, new housing, converting old buildings, conversion of industry, forestry, helping farmers, and waste.

There is no reason for delay. We already have all the technology we need. Promises today of action in ten or thirty yearsare either pious hopes or lies. We need deep cuts in emissions next year, and every year after. That means massive numbers of climate jobs next year too.

Corporations and the market have had decades to solve the problem. They have not done so. We could argue about whether they can eventually do it. But it is clear that they will not act in time. Only governments can raise the amounts of money needed forclimate jobs to replace almost all the fossil fuels we burn now. And  only governments will do the many essential things which make no profit. So most of the jobs will have to be in the public sector.

Climate jobs, and wider Green New Deals, are a necessity. They are also a strategy for mobilising a mass climate movement. For too long the enemies of climate action have said we have to choose between jobs and the environment. Climate jobs projects cut through all that – we will have more jobs and save the climate.

Public sector climate jobs will also mean we can promise retraining and new jobs to miners, oil workers and other carbon workers. That is morally right. It is also politically important.

Humanity will never halt climate change without the organised and enthusiastic support of small farmers and workers in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The majority of people killed and ruined by climate change will also come from those continents. Most of them will be poor. But they will not fight to stay poor. Climate jobs means they can fight for a low carbon world with an alternative path to development. Climate jobs, and wider Green New Deals, can make poverty history.

The idea of climate jobs first came naturally from trade unionists. But we need a far wider and stronger movement than that. That means climate strikers, climate activists, trade unionists, scientists, engineers, voters and Earthlings campaigning together, in many different ways. Each country is different, and there is much to debate everywhere about how climate jobs projects could work. But we need a global campaign, in every country, growing until we reach a tipping point where humanity can rescue the future of life on Earth.

Please support this call by sending an email to contact {at}


Campaign against Climate Change (UK) | Empregos para o Clima (Portugal) | scot.e3 (Employment, Energy and Environment, Scotland)

2 degrees artivism (Portugal) | Academia Cidadã (Portugal) | Acréscimo (Portugal) | Agrarians Collective (Pakistan) | Centro de Intervenção para o Desenvolvimento Amílcar Cabral (Portugal) | Climáximo (Portugal) | Climate Save Lisboa (Portugal) | Divest Strathclyde (Scotland) | Dumfries Trades Union Council (Scotland) | Dundee Trades Union Council (Scotland) | Edinburgh Trades Union Council (Scotland) | Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (India) | Pakistan Kissan Rabta Committee (Pakistan) | People’s Resource Centre (India) | Precários Inflexíveis (Portugal) |

Individual subscribers:

Andreas Ytterstad (Chair, Concerned Scientists Norway), Caro Kemp (Rainbow Bike Repair, Scotland), Christopher Beckham (President of The Norwegian Union of Commerce and Office Employees – HK, Norway)Frode Pleym (Head of Greenpeace Norway), Isla Scott (Glasgow, Scotland), Kjersti Barsok (President of The Norwegian Civil Service Union NTL, Norway), Kjersti Hoff (Leader of the Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union – NBS, Norway), Mette Nord (President of Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees Fagforbundet, Norway), Mike Arnott (Secretary Dundee Trades Union Council, Scotland), Mike Downham (Glasgow, Scotland), Ragnhild Lied (President of the Confederation of Unions for Professionals Unio, Norway), Steinar Winther Christensen (President of the Norwegian Grandparents Campaign, Norway), Therese Hugstmyr Woie (Head of Nature and Youth, Young Friends of the Earth Norway)








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