WEF speaker says ‘a lot of jobs will disappear’ due to ‘just transition’

Trade Union Official Veronica Nilsson told WEF members the 'just transition' will be 'very, very difficult' because 'a lot of jobs will disappear' with no guarantee they will be replaced promptly or with equivalent pay. 'Where will these new jobs be created, and will we have enough jobs?'

WEF speaker says ‘a lot of jobs will disappear’ due to ‘just transition’
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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One World Economic Forum (WEF) panelist had a moment of unprecedented clarity Wednesday in speaking the truth: a 'just transition' cannot happen when imposed on people.

Trade Union Official Veronica Nilsson told WEF members that when "changes are imposed on people," the ‘just transition’ is bound to fail.

"To manage the energy transition … you have to [make] changes with people," she said. "You need their buying … and acceptance of reforms."

Nilsson, who serves as General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), told the audience to expect better outcomes when that becomes reality.

However, she acknowledged the energy transition from conventional oil and gas will be "very, very difficult" because "a lot of jobs will disappear" with no guarantee they will be replaced promptly or with equivalent pay.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an estimated 14 million 'green energy' jobs will be created by 2030. 

"Low-carbon power generation, mainly solar and wind, employs 7.8 million, on par with oil supply," they said. 

Already, 10% of some 13.6 million vehicle manufacturing jobs are involved in the electric vehicle (EVs) supply chain, including the construction of batteries and other components.

The IEA expects another 16 million workers to make the 'green energy' transition, with three in five (60%) likely to need some degree of post-secondary training.

"Where will these new jobs be created, and will we have enough jobs?" posed Nilsson to the 'just transition' panel. "It’s a question of quality … and quantity of jobs." 

Last January, a 'just transition' memo landed Ottawa in hot water for suggesting that Canada phase out entire energy sectors that employ hundreds of thousands of people. 

"Up to 2.7 million jobs will be eliminated across Canada through a 'just transition,'" said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith last January 16. "It has nothing to do with a transition."

According to the federal government, the transition to a low-carbon economy would have an uneven impact across sectors, occupations, and regions and create significant labour market disruptions.

The Trudeau Liberals expect "larger-scale transformations" in agriculture (about 292,000 workers), energy (about 202,000 workers), manufacturing (about 193,000 workers), buildings (about 1.4 million workers), and transportation (about 642,000 workers), adding up to 13.5% of Canada’s workforce.

"It’s worse than I feared," claimed Smith at the time.

"Canadians thrown out of work by climate change programs can always get jobs as janitors," reads the memo.

"Some green jobs will not require workers with green skills to perform their jobs," it said, "such as a driver working for a solar energy company."

The memo notes that a 'just transition' would have a much heavier impact in oil and gas provinces, especially Alberta.

"The oil and gas sector, in particular, is a large contributor to the GDP of Alberta and Newfoundland, at 27.3 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively," it reads, "affecting about 187,000 workers in Alberta and 13,300 workers in Newfoundland, compared to less than 3% in any other province."

"This makes the NEP look like a children’s play toy," Smith said, referring to the Liberal National Energy Program of 1980.

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