There has been a welcome mainstreaming of sustainability issues in recent years. While sustainability by its nature covers a wide range of topics, climate change mitigation has understandably been in a key area of focus. It's clearly vital that we do everything we can to try to mitigate the effects of climate change - in particular by decarbonising the economy.

But the economy is made up of people. This FT article shines a light on the prospects of workers in the UK oil and gas industry who are retraining to get jobs in the renewables sector. As companies (hopefully) embrace the transition to a more sustainable way of doing business, it's important to recall SDG8 from the UN's sustainable development goals ("Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all").

A few thoughts from me:

  • Whilst some employers are proactively helping their employees transition (including covering training costs), this may not happen across the board. How much should this be the responsibility of the employer versus the government?
  • It's not just those working in the oil and gas sector who will be affected by decarbonisation. For example, the move to electric cars (UK rules forbid the sale of any new petrol or diesel cars from 2030) means that the job of a mechanic will change beyond all recognition. There are a lot fewer moving parts in an EV compared to a petrol car, so far fewer mechanics required and with a different skill set. How can today's mechanics be retrained and redeployed?

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