Will the energy transition destroy or create jobs? This study deconstructs preconceived notions

Should we expect a huge impact – whether positive or negative – of the energy transition on employment? Several researchers from the Council for Economic Analysis (CAE), Matignon’s expert body, tried to answer this question, in analysis note published this Wednesday, November 15. “The idea is really to try to deepen all the academic work and all the research on the effect that the energy transition could have on the labor market and thus shed light on the public debate To the question”said Camille Landais, CAE’s deputy president, during the presentation of the study to journalists.

To predict the effects of decarbonizing the economy on employment, the four economists who wrote the note modeled the effects of introducing a carbon tax from 100 euros extra per ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Note that its official amount today is 80 euros per ton of CO2. “This tax will have limited influence about employment in France » because “Companies will undoubtedly adjust their energies accordingly”, warns CAE. Tax could, at worstlead to a a drop in employment of only 0.6 percent by 2030 (ie -167,000 jobs), if implemented only in France and if its revenues are not redistributed in the form of tax cuts for households and reductions in social security contributions for businesses. In case of redistribution and implementation in France only, the effect would be positive on employment (+0.3%, or 92,000 jobs created). However, these are unrealistic hypotheses.


Carbon tax, an opportunity for Europe

An even smaller impact on employment in France in the case of a European carbon tax

Because in reality the price of carbon is likely to be harmonized at the European level and a carbon border adjustment mechanism (carbon border tax) will be established, the researchers postulate. Enough to further limit the negative effect on employment in France. Really, “When we have a tax only at the national level, the effect is logically negative for the most energy-intensive sectors. But when we increase the tax scale (on a European or even global level, editor’s note), these very disadvantaged sectors in France can go so far as to have comparative advantage because they spend less than the same sectors abroad”explains François Fontaine, one of the authors of the note, also a professor at the Paris School of Economics (PSE) and at the University of Paris 1.

With such a tax, companies will turn away from energy sources that emit the most CO2 in favor of them other energy sources which are smaller, allowing them to “reduce the level of emissions without excessively reducing the quantities produced”, the note states, which therefore dismantles the idea that an ambitious energy transition policy would have a destructive effect on employment in France. Economists therefore make several recommendations for a successful energy transition, including establishing a “dynamic carbon floor price” a minimum of 150 euros per ton of CO2 today and about 250 euros in 2030.


Environment: these are the jobs that companies in France are planning for 2023

Green professions struggling to take off due to lack of attractiveness

However, “If the arguments for ‘killing jobs’ are weak, the idea that the transition would massively create green jobs must be too.” relativized», temper researchers. Please note that a “green” job, according to the definitions, is a job related to an activity with low carbon intensity or a job that by its nature contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. However, these green occupations represent today between 0.5% and 1% only total employment in France.

If they want to develop, however, they will not do so until 2030. “that a modest share total employment”, the authors of the study estimate. This can be especially explained by the fact that these occupations struggle to attract new talent. “There is an offer of training for green occupations, but we have few applications”emphasizes Aurélien Saussay, one of the authors of the note and assistant professor of environmental economics at the Grantham Research Institute of the London School of Economics.

i have to say it “these jobs require a wider range of key skills than neutral jobs (non-green, NLDR), but currently they don’t he is not better paid for an equal profession”, we can read in the CAE note. Indeed, according to the authors of the study, in the early 2010s low-carbon jobs offered employees “salary bonus” in most sectors in the United States and the United Kingdom – the available data for France do not allow such an analysis to be carried out. So, within the same sector, up to 15% a wage gap with non-green professions could be observed. But “It’s not like that anymore”, economists point out. However, to achieve our climate goals, it is “critical to filling the potential gap in the attractiveness of low-carbon professions”conclude.

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