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The Alternative Information & Development Centre’s (AIDC) has released its latest research report. Titled One Million Climate Jobs – Moving South Africa forward on a low-carbon, wage-led and sustainable path, the report estimates that a transition from South Africa’s coal-based electricity system over a 20-year horizon could create 250 000 direct jobs at wind and solar farms, as well as in the renewable-energy supply chain.

Outside of renewable energy, the report argues that there is an opportunity to create 390 000 climate jobs in public transport, 200 000 in construction, 100 000 in agriculture and 110 000 in waste, industry and education. The findings indicate that South Africa would be able to afford and fund the creation of one-million climate jobs, suggesting that at least part of the funding could be generated through levies on electricity sales and public-transport tickets.

SA could create one million green jobs

Climate jobs are defined as those that will help stop the progress of global warming. In South Africa, these jobs will mostly be associated with renewable energy, public transport, electric vehicle manufacture, construction and agriculture, and will impact on existing jobs focused around coal and oil.

“The AIDC’s solidarity with AMCU (the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) is greatly appreciated. It is a solidarity based on a shared approach and conviction of the urgent need to confront the numerous challenges facing our economy, the people whose needs the economy is supposed to meet and the sustainability of human life on a planet heating to unsustainable levels,” Joseph Mathunjwa, President of AMCU, said at the launch of the research.

“However, AMCU is a trade union representing mine workers and construction workers. These workers are embedded in the very industrial processes that are at the centre of contributing to global warming and other environmental problems. It is inescapable that, if we are going to move decisively to a low carbon less polluting economy, it is going to be at the cost of coal mining, coal fired energy plants, coal to liquid gas, etc. Unless jobs are offered to our members in clean industries, they would never voluntarily agree to the shutting down of mining and energy industries. It would be like asking them to commit suicide.”

He added that we need a just transition to a wage-led, low carbon economy; a negotiated transition that is the outcome of careful planning by government, business and labour; a transition that guarantees affected workers a decent, alternative job and wage. “It is only on this basis that you can reasonably expect any worker to be won to the fight against global warming and of doing something to halt the climate crisis.”

Jonathan Neale, editor of the report agreed that there will be a need to cushion the blow for those individuals currently employed in the coal sector. However, he believes that the long-term gains will make up for the short-term losses. “Our message is that South Africa desperately needs jobs, while climate change is a threat to all of humanity. This campaign can help solve both problems and South Africa can afford it,” he says.

Image credit: Copyright: wklzzz / 123RF Stock Photo

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