How bold climate leadership can create decent jobs

True boldness in climate leadership goes beyond mere job creation; it entails a commitment to climate justice. [iStockphoto]

Climate is one of the most uniting cross-cutting issue facing the planet, with leaders regardless of sector or religion, level of development agreeing on the need and urgency to take action. 

Why then are we not seeing commensurate progress beyond the conferences and papers? It’s time to ditch the old ways and embrace a new path that creates jobs, fosters inclusion, justice and builds a better future.

In Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, droughts have claimed 9.5 million livestock, while across the continent, an unprecedented food crisis grips 140 million people, the worst such crisis in four decades. These are not just statistics; they represent lives disrupted, futures uncertain, and ecosystems on the brink.

Undoubtedly, our reliance on fossil fuels has only worsened the impacts of climate change. Projections paint a concerning picture. According to the OECD, by 2050, with no significant policy changes, the global economy, four times larger than today, will demand a staggering 80 per cent more energy.

Alarming as it is, this trajectory means little change in our energy mix—fossil fuels are predicted to still dominate at 85 per cent, renewables at just over 10 per cent, and nuclear energy making up the remainder. However, what’s truly worrisome is the potential carbon-intensive path Africa could take, mirroring the choices of wealthier nations. Such a course would see an additional 12 gigatonnes of CO2e emissions annually by 2050, pushing the dream of global net zero frustratingly out of reach.

While the discourse often revolves around need for environmental preservation and carbon reduction, there’s a crucial aspect that is often overlooked: job creation. Bold climate leadership is not just about mitigating environmental degradation; it’s about harnessing the transformative power of sustainable practices to generate opportunities while ensuring climate justice for all.

The World Economic Forum estimates that the transition to green energy is expected to generate 10.3 million new jobs globally by 2030. Most of these jobs are likely to be in energy efficiency, power generation, and automotive sectors.

Kenya, for instance, intends to have a thriving, green, circular-based economy by 2030 with a host of new employment opportunities as a result.

However, true boldness in climate leadership goes beyond mere job creation; it entails a commitment to climate justice. This means ensuring the benefits of sustainable development are equitably distributed, particularly among marginalised communities. It requires prioritising inclusive policies that not only provide jobs but also empower vulnerable populations and address historical injustices.

This future is not only possible, but it is the only path to a truly sustainable and just society.

The writer is co-founder and CEO of Jacobs Ladder Africa

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