Economic Growth: The Silver Lining of Climate Change?

Good Environmental Policy is Good Economic PolicyGood environmental policy equals good economic policy 100% of the time”
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

As the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change winds up its first week in Bali, scientists reiterate their call for quick and decisive action as the United States remains opposed to any mandatory cuts in emissions for fear of “undermining economic growth”.

Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that nobody seeks to undermine economic growth.

Funny thing too, for it seems as if progressive policy and action will very likely do just the opposite.

The UNEP issued a press release on Thursday with preliminary research findings from a draft report, due to be released early next year, entitled Green Jobs: Can the Transition to Environmental Sustainability Spur New Kinds and Higher Levels of Employment? 

The report was commissioned in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and shows that, in quick summary, “the challenge of climate change… presents opportunities for new industries and employment”. In other words, economic growth in response to an inevitably changing world.

That is, I might add, if we don’t wait too long to realistically face the challenge.    


Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

2 responses

  1. I think when they say this they look at a slice of the economy. Some businesses, that specialize in energy saving technology will do well.
    But not everyone works in that sector of the economy! What about low skill workers who work in businesses that will get hit with higher energy costs? How do you suppose a business will recoup the expense of higher energy costs? Cut employees? Maybe move to a country with lower wages?
    This article refers to “new kinds and higher levels of employment”. That seems a reference to technical jobs; what about those who do not have the skills for that work? Were does this leave them? Were does it leave 20 million undocumented, low education, low skilled workers?
    I wonder.

  2. That’s a very good question Heather. I can’t answer it fully, but I can refer to a quote from UNEP’s press release:
    “New research reveals that these jobs are not for just the middle classes… the so-called ‘green collar’ jobs – but also for workers in construction, sustainable forestry and agriculture to engineering and transportation…”
    Now, of course, you’re referring, I believe to the low-skilled and undocumented workers here in the US and the research that the press release refers to is an international study – nor does it address all your questions.
    Is the alternative – that is, not adapting to change – any better?
    Thanks for the coment!

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