Working towards a climate neutral Europe: jobs and skills in a changing world

Working towards a climate neutral Europe: jobs and skills in a changing world is a flagship publication by CLG Europe

CLG Europe, a membership group of leading businesses including Sky, Coca-Cola and Unilever, whose secretariat is provided by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), commissioned Cambridge Econometrics to explore the impact of major socio-economic-environmental dynamics (or megatrends) on Europe’s labour market and examine them in the context of the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The report assesses technological change (AI, Big Data, digitalisation), demographic change, globalisation, and resource scarcity. These megatrends will impact the global economy, businesses and society, and can be complementary or inconsistent with the ambitious social, environmental and climate objectives of the Green Deal.

The extent to which various megatrends will impact European society can aid or impede progress toward a fair and prosperous, climate neutral economy.

Key messages

  • Automation and digitisation has been identified as the megatrend likely to most significantly impact jobs and skills
  • Globalisation has complex, politically charged effects with unequal impacts between and within societies. It has created a business model on the exploitation of comparative advantages based on global value chains which, as the current pandemic has shown, is not sustainable.
  • Ageing of the population has profound consequences for labour markets, by altering the size and skill profile of the available labour force
  • The development of the circular economy is essential to efficiently and affordably engage with the challenges of resource scarcity and will have a beneficial effect on jobs.

Case studies included in the report:

  • Off-shore wind: Increased electricity generation from renewable sources will be crucial for Europe to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 – the UK is the global leader in the offshore wind power generation sector
  • Automotive: The German automotive industry is an important sector both in terms of economic impact and direct and indirect employment. The automotive sector faces numerous drivers of change, including pressure to be competitive and to adopt the latest technologies
  • Coal: As part of the European Green Deal, disadvantaged regions that depend on coal mining for employment and economic activity are to receive support to help diversify their economies and to reskill workers. In Romania, the renewable energy sector has been successful, placing the country in a strong position to increase this sector and to offer reskilling and employment to former coal industry employees.
  • Steel: Following the adoption of the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target, the steel industry is under intense pressure to improve energy efficiency, recycle more and switch to low-carbon production processes. In response to foreign competitive pressures, Sweden has developed expertise in highly processed steel grades and niche-oriented products made of environmentally friendly steel.
  • Agriculture: Agriculture remains a key European sector both socially and economically, but faces many challenges in terms of climate change impact, ageing of the workforce and increased digitalisation as a response to climate change impact.
Cornelia-Madalina Suta Principal Economist [email protected]