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Carbon Neutrality Could Change Latin American Employment: Study

  • Latin America and the Caribbean could get up to 80 percent renewable electricity in an affordable way by using wind and solar resources.

    Latin America and the Caribbean could get up to 80 percent renewable electricity in an affordable way by using wind and solar resources. | Photo: Xinhua/ Martin Zabala

Published 29 July 2020
Opinion

The IDB forecasts that by 2050, climate change damages could cost US$100 billion annually to the region.

About 15 million new jobs could be created by 2030 if a zero-emissions economy is implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published on Wednesday by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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A zero-emission economy, otherwise known as net-zero carbon economies or carbon neutrality, refers to using technologies that can bring emissions to zero in several economic activities such as using renewable and nuclear generation for electricity, among others.

In this sense, the investigation reveals that the transition to carbon neutrality would eliminate 7.5 million jobs in sectors such as fossil fuel electricity, fossil fuel extraction, and animal-based food production. On the other hand, the IDB forecasts that by 2050, climate change damages could cost US$100 billion annually to the region. 

Nevertheless, as a result of this transition, 22.5 million jobs will be created in agriculture and plant-based food production, renewable electricity, forestry, construction, and manufacturing by 2050.

"More than 22 million metric tons of sargassum flood the Caribbean beaches. This innovation transforms it into an economic opportunity."

The 131-page report forecasts that Latin America and the Caribbean could get up to 80 percent renewable electricity in an affordable way by using wind and solar resources, as well as thermal and hydropower as its cost continues to decrease.

Moreover, the organizations specify that in a carbon-neutral scenario, these measures eliminate, slightly more than one percent of jobs only in  Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, and Venezuela, as these countries rely heavily on animal-based food systems, which amounts significantly to carbon emissions.

However, transitioning to net-zero energy production could end the need for the countries to subsidize energy, which the organizations estimate it costs US$77 billion to the governments in the region.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, ILO recommends enhancing the employment recovery by focusing on long-term, rights-based employment programs that entitle people to work and offer predictable and stable incomes while creating needed public assets and services.

Notably, the organizations remarked that such policies are already being implemented, as is the case with Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Program, which contributes to improving food security through land restoration and reforestation and has become Africa's most extensive climate resilience program.

    

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