'Climate Jobs' and the Limits of Growth.

Author:Onaran, Ozlem
Position:Reprint
 
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The Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group (CACCTU) has published a revised second edition of its One million climate jobs pamphlet. This is a response by a group of trade union and climate activists to challenge the multiple crises in a constructive way. The pamphlet, which is aimed at activists, is backed by serious research. It is informative about the sources of greenhouse gas emissions and issues around renewable energy based on wind, wave, tide and solar power.

The campaign proposes creating a National Climate Service (NCS) in Britain which will hire 1 million public sector workers within 12 months in climate jobs producing renewable energy, renovating buildings, improving public transport infrastructure, industry and education.

The ultimate aim is to cut emissions by 80% in 20 years. The action plan is dynamic and involves retraining the climate workers to convert Britain into a zero-carbon economy.

The campaign insists that these jobs should be government jobs, arguing that subsidies to encourage private industry will be inefficient, slow and insufficient.

The financing of NCS is realistically discussed based on taxation measures, with proposals including an extra 5% tax on the richest 1% of the population, a "Robin Hood" tax on financial transactions, closing tax loopholes, borrowing and monetary expansion. One reference point is the bank bailouts of 2008-09, where massive amounts of funds were mobilized in a short time span to rescue private banks, which were "too big to fail." If the planet is too big to fail, then mobilizing [pounds sterling]52 billion a year for an NCS should be feasible.

Further positive economic spill-over effects of an NCS are shown rigorously: indirect and induced employment associated with climate jobs, a decrease in unemployment and thus lower benefit payments and higher tax revenues. This is predicted to save [pounds sterling]34 billion a year. Thus the report claims that an NCS and 1 million climate jobs would only cost the government [pounds sterling]18 billion per year.

Ecological limits?

In the next stage, two related challenges are awaiting the campaign, which are so far not addressed in either edition of the pamphlet. These are the rebound effects and the ecological limits to global growth and climate justice.

First, if the campaign achieves its aim of increased efficiency in renewable energy, this may radically reduce the share of expenditures on energy in the household budget. This is...

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