India is expected to have 74 million additional 'green collar' jobs by 2050 created from climate transition and about 27 million of these jobs are going to be in the government, financial, and business services sectors. Further, a well-planned transition to net zero carbon emission targets will further allow diversification of the agriculture sector, resulting in 5 million more jobs by 2050, says a Deloitte report.

The report by the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress titled ‘Work toward net zero -- The rise of the Green Collar workforce in a just transition,’ says if climate actions are not initiated, global economic losses will be about $178 trillion in net present value terms from 2021-2070, destroying jobs and communities. Based on actions addressing climate change with an active and global transition, it could generate economic growth (by some $43 trillion in net present value terms from 2021-2070), with jobs and incomes for people around the world.

The report says over 800 million jobs worldwide — around one quarter of the global workforce today — are highly vulnerable to both climate extremes and economic transition impacts. It identifies agriculture, transport, construction, conventional energy, heavy industry & manufacturing as key sectors that are going to be mainly impacted by the climate transition. The impacts will be particularly severe in Asia Pacific and Africa, with many workforces in these regions, such as workers in India and China, having more than 40% of employment in highly exposed industries.

“An active transition to net zero will earn many economic benefits to India as highlighted in reports by Deloitte Economic Institute. However, the success of this transition will be judged based on how we protect those who are most vulnerable to both climate changes and job disruption," says Viral Thakker, partner and sustainability leader, Deloitte India.

Focus on skills that will help the workforce drive the economic transition and a deeper analysis of India’s job market and identifying the areas where upskilling and policy interventions are required for a just transition could be some of the initial steps in this direction, he says.

The report says the transition to net-zero emissions creates a cadre of workers with new skills, which can be called as the 'green collar' workforce, who can be an office worker or a manual labourer, influenced or not by decarbonisation initiatives. Deloitte Economics Institute’s mapping of existing skills in the workforce says 80% of the skills required in the short-to-medium term to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 already exist and upskilling can make them fit for future green collar jobs. As the green collar workforce develops, only a small number of jobs will be immediately and negatively affected by the net-zero transition. For most workers across economies, either in the green collar workforce or not (such as teachers, nurses, hospitality workers, and small business owners), decarbonisation of the economy is unlikely to change the skills they require in their role.

Workers who are employed in emissions-intensive industries will typically experience a direct impact from the net-zero transition, says the report. They will likely either be disrupted, with no job to return to, due to permanent changes in demand or technology (i.e., reduced demand for labor in highly concentrated fossil-fuel sectors, such as thermal coal miners) or the disruption could be temporary and direct employment pathways into other industries will exist (e.g., electricians, engineers, administrative, and managerial workers in fossil-fuel sectors where there is strong demand across other emissions-intensive jobs industries). These workers could also find employment within the industry, as the industry restructures (e.g., growth of the carbon farming industry in agriculture that offsets disruption). In many economies, many of these vulnerable workers (like crop farm workers and coal miners) are already experiencing disruption due to automation and technology change.

But, where economies still have labour-intensive industries that are also emissions intensive, the workforce impacts will be more acute and severe. As global energy grids and the production of goods shift away from fossil fuels and high-emitting industrial processes, it is expected that demand for labour in these jobs will decline as technology and industries change. While the tasks of transformed jobs change, there are some roles that change so significantly that a new net-zero job emerges. An example of this is the emergence of a fuel cell engineer as the global hydrogen industry grows. It is also expected that some workers within these climate reliant jobs will experience negative impacts, both in terms of harsher work conditions and labour disruption. Extreme heat events and the associated heat stress on workers are significant concerns for the health and safety of workers and their ability to perform tasks, says Deloitte.

It says an active, rather than, passive transition could create 180 million additional jobs in the Asia-Pacific, 26 million in Americas, 21 million in Europe and 75 million in Africa. China alone can have 38 million more jobs by 2050 under an active transition, compared with a passive transition.

For example, China’s wholesale and retail trade sector is expected to have an additional 5.5 million jobs in 2050, compared to a passive transition. Energy-intensive manufacturing, which currently employs more than 20% of the workforce, could face significant challenges with an unplanned net-zero economic shift and associated technology changes. Under an active transition with strategic industry investments, an additional 7 million jobs could be created by 2050 in the metal, technology, chemical, and other manufacturing industries in China.

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