'Marketplace' Report: How Climate Impacts Jobs Climate change could wipe out millions of jobs around the world according to a statement by the United Nations. Some U.N. officials add, however, that new jobs will be created.
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'Marketplace' Report: How Climate Impacts Jobs

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'Marketplace' Report: How Climate Impacts Jobs

'Marketplace' Report: How Climate Impacts Jobs

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From NPR News, it's DAY TO DAY.

We already expect global warming to disrupt weather patterns and bring more storms. Now a new U.N. report says it also may reshape the world's employment patterns.

MARKETPLACE's Janet Babin joins us. Janet, explain this connection between global warming and employment.

JANET BABIN: Well, Alex, some industries are expected to save because of climate change, and that could therefore wipe out employment in those areas - that's according to U.N. officials. They were speaking this week at a conference, a labor forum in Geneva. And the officials gave this example: world fisheries and tourism in certain areas of the world are probably going to drop off dramatically as a result of global warming, and that would therefore negatively affect jobs in those sectors of the economy.

CHADWICK: But as we respond to climate change, aren't new jobs being created - kind of environmental jobs?

BABIN: Yeah. Some say yes, that is a factor, that global warming is in fact spurring innovation, especially in alternative energy.

I spoke with Pierre Trevet about this today. He's with Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. And he expects our response to climate change will actually create more jobs.

Mr. PIERRE TREVET (Innovest Strategic Value Advisors-San Francisco bay Area): I think we'll see an increase, not a decrease, because the new wave of clean energy is more labor intensive and much less centralized, and is on a smaller scale. So there will be less economies of scale, if you will. And it will require more people.

BABIN: So, Alex, Pierre gives this example of energy. Right now it's centralized. Most of us are on the grid and we get our energy from large utility companies. But he expects there will be this shift because of global climate change to more solar wind, alternative energy - that kind of thing. And that'll take people off the grid. And those industries aren't as centralized as a utility company, but there will be new jobs in these sectors.

CHADWICK: But the person working at the utility company today doesn't necessarily have the skills to go work in alternative energy tomorrow.

BABIN: Yeah, that's the issue, isn't it? And Trevet admits that, and he says, you know, people who lose their jobs as a result of climate change might not be in the same place or have the right training to be scooped up by companies that are expanding because of global warming. So there's going to be this adjustment period with winners and losers, both for businesses and for job seekers.

Labor union leaders in Europe are expecting this and they're calling for long-term strategies that would help these uprooted workers - and business is already being affected by this.

There was a recent poll done in the U.K. and it found that global warming concerns were already having a big impact on the operations of most factories. I think 70 percent of businesses responding said that it was having a big effect on their business.

So - and some people are even saying that this shift is similar to what happened after the Industrial Revolution - that big of a shift.

CHADWICK: That's really big. Okay. Thank you for following that.

Janet Babin of Public Radio's daily business show MARKETPLACE, produced by American Public Media.

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