Employment implications of the 2-degree goal 521
count of GDP growing faster than reductions in GHG intensity.2 GHG emis-
sions stand far above the Earth’s capacity to sequester these gases, producing
climate change (IPCC, 2013).
Further reducing the carbon intensity of economic activity to bring about
a decrease in overall emissions is a fundamental element of a climate-friendly
economy (idem, 2014b; Ward et al., 2016). Given that energy is one of the pri-
mary sources of GHG emissions (IPCC, 2014b and 2018), advancing a climate-
friendly economy is underpinned by the promotion of energy efciency, on the
one hand, and increasing the share of energy sources that do not emit GHGs,
on the other.
This is largely acknowledged in the nationally determined contri-
butions submitted by signatories to the Paris Agreement (IRENA, 2017; UNEP,
2017) and by different agencies providing advice with respect to specic meas-
ures for the energy sector (DDPP, 2015; IEA, 2015 and 2017; IPCC, 2014b).
The International Energy Agency (IEA, 2015) lays out a path for the tran-
sition towards renewable energy sources and an increase in energy efciency
to achieve the 2-degree goal.4 At the worldwide level and compared to a busi-
ness-as-usual path that would lead to global warming of approximately 6 °C, the
IEA’s 2-degree path proposes a 55 per cent global reduction in electricity gen-
erated from coal, a 26 per cent global reduction in electricity generated from
natural gas and a 13 per cent global reduction in electricity generated from oil.
The 2-degree path also projects an increase in electricity generated from renew-
ables such as geothermal, wind, solar photovoltaic and nuclear energy and hy-
dropower (globally at 75, 75, 59, 46 and 16 per cent, respectively), among other
sources. It also projects a 9 per cent reduction in the total electricity generated
due to enhanced energy efciency. Table 1 outlines the expected differences in
energy demand by energy source between the business-as-usual scenario and
the IEA’s scenario to achieve the 2-degree goal.
A shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewables and energy ef-
ciency will undoubtedly affect employment in the energy sector, given that the
amount of labour needed to obtain a similar output differs according to the
2 Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest contributor to GHGs which, in turn, are responsible
for climate change. Other GHGs include methane, nitrous oxides and F-gases (HFCs, PFCs and
SF6). For the sake of simplicity, non-CO
2 GHGs are converted to a CO
2 equivalent (CO2-eq) based
on their global warming potential (GWP). For example, nitrous oxide (N
2O), emitted during agri-
cultural and industrial activities, has a GWP of 298 times that of CO
2. F-gases, commonly used as
refrigerants or re suppressants and in various industrial processes, have a GWP ranging from 124
for some specic hydrouorocarbons, to 22,800 for sulphur hexauoride. Energy-related emissions
consist largely of CO
3 A low-carbon economy also requires the reduction of non-energy related GHGs, such as
emissions from industrial or agricultural processes. It can also entail the promotion of carbon sinks
(e.g. reforestation and afforestation) or the development of technology to capture and store GHG
emissions. As more than 50 per cent of these emissions result from energy demands, a low-carbon
economy cannot take place without specic attention to the energy sector (IEA, 2015).
In the Paris Agreement, countries pledge to follow their nationally determined contributions
(NDCs) to achieve the 2-degree goal. The analysis in this article focuses on the IEA and the path it
proposes to achieve that goal (IEA, 2015). We do not focus on the NDCs because a gap remains be-
tween what can be achieved with the currently dened NDCs and the 2-degree goal (UNEP, 2017).