Hot topic: Transition to a green economy, part two

Polling for the general election suggested that the environment was a greater concern for voters than ever

Cross-party MPs, think tanks and trade unions have all argued that major industrial changes must take place. While this could create thousands of new jobs, there are also fears that some workers could lose out. So what can be done to support a just transition and protect those at the heart of the changes?

Cathleen Doohan, HR and CSR director at Fujitsu Ireland, says:

"There have been a lot of proposals on the environment, but it’s still difficult to know what action policymakers will take. It’s up to all of us – governments, businesses and individuals – to do everything we can to save our planet.

"The proposals by the Labour Party around restructuring the economy to achieve this were certainly radical, and so far there has not been agreement on a timeline for bringing in such changes. However, any plans to boost skills, provide more jobs and cut carbon emissions can only be welcomed.

"Now is the time, more than ever, for employers to lead the way in communicating changes to all who could be potentially affected, as well as the skills needed to ensure our organisations – and our planet – will not just survive but flourish."

Marga Hoek, author of The Trillion Dollar Shift, says:

"Throughout the world fossil energy is still being heavily subsidised. It would be wise to create an innovation policy to ensure that subsidies are granted to innovation instead. Removing subsidies, and pricing current externalities, would accelerate the growth of business solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"Long-term-orientated businesses committed to the SDGs are urging carbon pricing at global conventions, initiatives and policy negotiations.

"Employers and trade unions should emphasise the need to re-educate people, so as to make them employable in new technologies rather than only in old ones. There are great job prospects within the green industry but we currently lack the personnel to fulfil them.

"Investment in educating workers in new techniques is therefore crucial. Schools and universities must do the same. Employers must support this shift in competencies – thereby simultaneously enabling their own shift.

"We must not forget that there is a business case for investing in new technologies that will help deliver the SDGs and the opportunity to unlock new markets. Getting ahead of this movement is rewarding for companies as well as employees."

Read the first part of this hot topic

This piece appeared in the January 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk