- Senator Loren Legarda of the Republic of the Philippines
- Mr Priyantha Wijayatunga, Asia Clean Energy Forum Chair, Asian Development Bank
- Mr Peter Dupont of USAID and ACEF Co-chair
- Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
Thank you very much for joining us this morning.
Importance of Energy
We recognize that energy is central to almost every major challenges and opportunities we are facing today. Our everyday lives depend on reliable and affordable energy services to function smoothly and to develop equitably.
However, one in five people globally still lacks access to modern electricity. Around 3 billion people still rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. Lack of access to energy supplies and transformation systems has been a constraint to human and economic development.
On the other hand, energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the carbon intensity of energy is a key objective in long-term climate goals.
Ensuring access to clean, renewable energy for all has a significant potential to overcome the challenges and contribute to transforming lives, economies and the planet – ultimately achieving sustainable development.
Transition to renewable energy and impacts on jobs
We are seeing significant massive energy transformation taking shape globally. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 gigawatts in 2016, making the strongest year ever for new capacity additions, with solar energy showing particularly strong growth.
Asia, in particular, accounted for 58 per cent of new renewable additions in 2016, giving it a total of 812 GW or roughly 41 per cent of the global capacity. Asia was also the fastest growing region, with a 13.1 per cent increase in renewable capacity.
This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment.
This continued growth in the renewable energy sector has been demonstrating a significant job creation effect. IRENA’s 2017 report on Renewable Energy and Jobs shows that there are about 8.3 million workers in the renewable sector in 2016, excluding large hydropower. This is a 2.8 per cent increase from 2015.
This trend is expected to create more jobs, particularly as a result of longer and more diverse supply chains, higher labour intensity, and increased net profit margins. Jobs in renewable energy can be created directly and indirectly along the entire value chain, including in the manufacturing and distribution of equipment; the production of inputs such as chemicals; or even in services like project management, installation, operation, and maintenance.
Improved energy supply through renewable sources can also contribute to the expansion of existing economic activities in other sectors. Jobs created through renewable energy production furthermore carry the benefit of less hazardous working conditions. Employment in renewable energy can mean new opportunities to enter into innovative dialogue arrangements between workers and employers, increasing the quality of jobs when compared to traditional energy sectors. This not only means more jobs, but better and decent jobs.
However, as the demand for energy from renewable sources increases, it is expected that there will be a decrease in demand for oil, coal, and gas – which could lead to job losses in this sectors.
Need for a Just Transition
It is in this context that the ILO Tripartite constituents – Governments, workers and employers’ organizations – have adopted the policy guidelines for a “Just Transition towards an Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All”. The ILO Just Transition guidelines offer the constituents a framework and a practical tool to ensure that national and global efforts to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, advance employment creation goals, social justice and fair transitions for workers, enterprises and communities on an equal footing.
The Guidelines are both a policy framework and a practical tool to help countries at all levels of development manage the transition to low-carbon economies and can also help them achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the commitment to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. The application of these guidelines are currently being piloted by the ILO in the Philippines, Ghana and Uruguay.
The Just Transition approach, anchored on the Decent Work principles, broadly covers the following nine policy areas:
- Employment-centred macroeconomic and growth policies;
- Environmental regulations in targeted industries and sectors;
- Creating an enabling environment for sustainable and greener enterprises;
- Social protection policies to enhance resilience and safeguard workers from the negative impacts of climate change, economic restructuring and resource constraints;
- Labour market policies that actively pursue job creation, limit jobs loss and ensure that adjustments related to greening policies are well-managed;
- Occupational safety and health policies to protect workers from occupational hazards and risks;
- Skills development to ensure adequate skills at all levels to promote the greening of economy;
- The establishment of mechanisms for social dialogue throughout policymaking processes at all levels, and
- Policy coherence and institutional arrangements for the mainstreaming of sustainable development and ensuring stakeholder dialogue and coordination between policy fields.
Thank you so much and I look forward to a productive session!