The global battle to solve the climate problem is a major priority, but North-South disparities persist in climate action. Developing and developed nations are polarized over emission reduction responsibilities, with low-income and middle-income countries arguing they should not bear the same burden. China and India’s common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) will be emphasized at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference, prioritizing lives and livelihoods, with workers playing a crucial role.
Global investment is flowing into fields such as alternative energy, environmental protection, and climate technology, which offer opportunities for green development. The global renewable energy sector provided at least 13.7 million jobs in 2022, with Asia-Pacific countries accounting for 41% of the global total. By 2070, coordinated and effective climate action could contribute USD 47 trillion to the global economy.
However, industries highly sensitive to climate change, such as agriculture, energy, construction, real estate, transportation, and tourism, often employ the most labor force, leading to large-scale unemployment and social unrest. Governments must assist traditional employment groups in transitioning to climate-friendly jobs to mitigate the impact on jobs and income heavily reliant on climate-sensitive work, preventing worker dissatisfaction and sparking radical sentiments.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has initiated a large-scale strike in multiple states of the U.S. due to the lower number of workers required for electric vehicle production compared to traditional automobile manufacturing. This has led to a significant impact on climate policies, as it requires about half the workforce compared to traditional car manufacturing. Non-financial instruments, such as education, training, and talent development, also play a significant role in facilitating digital technology to cope with climate issues.
Developing countries and climate-vulnerable nations need to strengthen climate-related education, training, and talent development to increase green employment opportunities, improve global economic health, and promote equitable development. Policymakers need strong support for extensive exchange and collaboration in skill education and training, as well as opinion-sharing, to increase the supply of climate-skilled talents. This window of climate policy should not miss professional skill development and discussions on technical regulations.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November 2023 saw 14 member countries of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) sign agreements to strengthen research and commercialization of clean energy technologies, enhance interconnectivity, and increase investment in clean energy infrastructure and technology. IPEF partners will focus on policy-making, labor rights, social protection, skills improvement, retraining, and social dialogue.
Climate action has economic motivation, but the key lies in choosing the right approach. The COP28 agenda should not overly stress “climate ambition,” but rather on social well-being and human development. External factors can influence policy making, but internal conditions restrain policy making. Negotiating parties across countries can benefit from exploring innovative strategies and finding common ground.
Climate change is a crucial realm for bolstering collaborative efforts to mitigate risks. Climate negotiations should not be seen as anticipations of government commitments but as decisions that change the destiny and future of each individual. The realization of global climate agenda goals depends on continuous advancements and breakthroughs in climate actions, transcending prolonged disputes between nations. Both developed and developing nations must fulfill their respective responsibilities.