Sustainable recovery could create millions of jobs and put us on path to cleaner future, analysis shows

A sustainable recovery from the global pandemic could create millions of jobs and put carbon emissions into “structural decline”, experts have said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has set out a global recovery plan with measures ranging from making homes more energy efficient and speeding up new wind and solar installations to putting in more cycle lanes in cities.

The moves could shift the world’s energy systems to a cleaner and more resilient future, the IEA said.

An analysis carried out in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests the policies and investments from 2021-2023 in its plan would save or create nine million jobs a year.

The IEA says it would also cut annual greenhouse gases from energy by 4.5 billion tonnes by the end of the plan, stopping pollution rebounding as the world recovers from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and instead locking in structural declines in emissions.

Creating new cycle lanes could help boost jobs and cut emissions (Ian West/PA)
Creating new cycle lanes is among measures in the International Energy Agency’s global recovery plan (Ian West/PA)

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Measures such as boosting electric cars and trucks, cycling and walking will also cut air pollution and improve health, while investing in electricity grids would make them more secure and better able to withstand severe weather.

It would require public and private investment of one trillion US dollars (£800 billion) a year – or around 0.7% of the world’s economic output (GDP), the IEA said.

The agency’s sustainable recovery plan includes more than 30 measures across the electricity sector, transport, industry, buildings, fuels and emerging low-carbon technologies.

One of the ways to create jobs is by investing in retrofitting buildings with insulation and other measures to make them more energy efficient.

Existing energy efficiency programmes can be expanded and new projects can be shovel ready within weeks or months, while investment targeting social housing or government buildings can help kickstart the sector.

It also delivers long-lasting benefits by making homes cosier and cheaper to heat, cutting people’s bills, reducing poverty and improving health.

Building cycle lanes and expanding pedestrian walkways could create more than half a million local jobs globally in construction over the immediate to near term, and a cycling boom could help create 10 million jobs in manufacturing and retail sectors.

A shift to cycling and walking can also improve health, reduce air pollution and increase local shopping activities, the IEA said.

The IEA plan also sets out measures to modernise electricity grids, invest in hydrogen and battery technology and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

The sustainable recovery plan comes as governments look to reboot their economies after the pandemic saw countries locked down and huge falls in demand for energy.

The IEA said three million jobs had been lost or were at risk in the energy industry because of Covid-19, and another three million in related areas such as buildings, vehicles and industry.

Lockdowns have also led to large temporary falls in carbon emissions which need to decline dramatically over the coming years to limit climate catastrophe.

Dr Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, said: “Governments have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reboot their economies and bring a wave of new employment opportunities while accelerating the shift to a more resilient and cleaner energy future.”

He said the recovery plan gave them clear advice on how to tackle the major economic, energy and climate challenges at the same time, and while it was not intended to tell governments what they must do, it sought to tell them what they can do.

“This report lays out the data and analysis showing that a cleaner, fairer and more secure energy future is within our reach.

“The sustainable recovery plan would make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions, putting them on a path towards achieving long-term climate goals,” he said.

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  • Show Comments
    1. These all sound like good ideas.

      Greens, Starmer’s Labour, and the national parties (SNP &c) would probably back them.

      Would Tories? Some Tory MPs and voters would but Johnson only follows ‘policy’ determined by Cummings and Cummings is only interested in wrecking things not rebuilding them. Cummings wants ruin so that the ‘superior’ people (he claims genetic/evolutionary superiority for himself and his cabal) can watch the inferior die off (loses in evolution) while they inherit the earth. Of course, what the ‘winners’ have is not better DNA but inherited wealth so his ‘eugenics’ are just a thin mask on capitalism and oligarchy. Once disaster has killed off the poor, Cummings cabal might be interested in a ‘green’ economy. Presumably, they will ensure enough scientists, engineers and similar useful servants survive to keep the ‘super humans’ in comfort in the new era. Using green technology to create jobs is just not interesting to Dominic. He might have Johnson mouth some platitudes about it, just as he had him make comments about BLM as a sop to the media despite a life-long belief in White Supremacy and a ‘natural right to rule’ over the sub-human hoi polloi.

      As I said in earlier comments on other articles, I care passionately about saving the planet. I support a ‘green new deal’ but unless the green economy comes with radical change across society it will not end inequality. Yes, it would be good to cut air pollution or have more sustainable energy or farming but if the same rich/poor divide continues who does it really help? If organic farming still exploits low paid, precarious employment or those high paid, high skilled green engineering jobs are not offered to BAME, women, disabled or other disadvantaged people what really changes? Green New Deal just sounds like a Rich White Male Same Old Deal to me. As I quipped on another comment, unless we have a ‘Black New Deal’ we cannot have a genuine ‘Green New Deal’ (using ‘Black’ to represent not just BAME but every oppressed and disadvantaged group in society).

      Sadly, I am not reading many articles that have seen the need to unite the Green and BLM movements. This makes me wonder if there is any truth in the old slurs that the Green movement is often racist and too often things through a White lens.

      Unless radicals unite to change the status quo, we wiil be caught by ancient ‘divide and conquer’ and the status quo will win. Which means we all lose.

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