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Munk School of Global Affairs

Climate Change, Employment and COP21

Caroline Bracht, Senior Researcher, G7 and G20 Research Groups
December 4, 2015

The challenges posed by climate change on employment are many and varied. The effects depend greatly on an individual’s geographical location, which determines the type of climactic event, the sector within which that person works, and the types of actions that country’s government is taking to prepare and respond.

A leader in exploring climactic affects on the labour market, the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that climate change and the agenda on decent work are mutually supportive and inseparable. A critical phase transition in the collective pursuit to halt global warming is a shift to “green jobs.” Green jobs are central to sustainable development, and the solution to climate change. But what really are green jobs, and how do we shift from not only just regular jobs but from unemployment to green jobs?

The ILO defines green jobs as those that help to reduce negative environmental impacts that ultimately lead to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. And in the lead-up to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) at Paris the ILO hosted the “Dialogue on Climate Change and Jobs, Shaping the COP21 Agenda of Solutions.”

The dialogue concluded with a number of possible solutions to be included in the COP21 agreement.

Climate change is forcing countries to move from old jobs to new jobs, in a variety of industries. While challenging this transition has the potential to create thousands of well-paying green jobs.

A legally binding COP21 agreement is necessary to finally bring developed and developing countries together in their resolve to address climate change. The number of areas to cooperate, share information and technologies to build new climate conscious industries is vast.

A COP21 legally binding agreement is the first step to addressing the plethora of issues associated with climate change adaptation and employment. A continuous work plan, starting with the June 2015 World of Work Summit, which focused on Climate Change and the World of Work , will be another step in the path to green jobs and sustainable development.

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Caroline Bracht
Caroline Bracht, M.Ed., is a senior researcher for the G20 Research Group, G7 and G8 Research Group, BRICS Research Group and Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She has researched and written on G20, BRICS and G7/G8 compliance, specifically on development, climate change and energy commitments. She has recently co-authored articles entitled "Generating Global Health Governance through BRICS Summitry" in Contemporary Politics and "Connecting Climate Change and Health through Global Summitry" in World Medical and Health Policy. She was the lead researcher for a project commissioned by the International Labour Organization on the G20's implementation of the commitments in the Seoul Development Consensus. Caroline leads the group's work on education, social policy, health and compliance.


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