Who agrees that renewable energies are a bad thing? Less and less people. Who thinks that renewables are still not that efficient when compared to fossil fuels? Perhaps a few more people would agree with this statement. Just to give an example, about 21% of the European Union’s energy needs are provided by renewable and clean energies, is it a lot? Too little? Just right? Of course, too little, however when we compare it to the trend, we can see that in 2005 it was a mere 10% and since then it was steadily rising and even increasing speed. Africa’s economic development is speeding up, and so are the energy demands, and although no data is available at present on the impact of clean and renewable energies on the African continent, we witness many stories on clean energy projects at the community level across the whole continent. South-East Asia energy ministers set a target to 35% of energy coming from renewables by 2025, quite soon! The trend is there, and the example is there.
This is not only about replacing one energy provider with another but also an actual revolution that goes from large companies and energy giants to the possibility of single households being off the grid and providing for their own energy needs, at least partly. We are looking at the democratisation of energy production and distribution, one of the essential keys to achieving sustainability. Does that mean the energy production and distribution giants existing today will disappear? Highly unlikely, because many of them are also investing in renewables today with massive solar farms or windmills for example. Nonetheless, it would be next to impossible for a single household to dig up enough oil and gas to sustain their energy needs, or even for districts and villages produce their own energy and construct pipelines to every house. Whereas, with renewable energies, this is not only possible but also fostered and promoted.
This is the dawn of the post-carbon era, the new times ahead foresees that each and every household can contribute to their own energy needs and perhaps even more, we are talking of small-scale interventions with small scale technologies which have a huge potential for impact on employment. The best thing about it is that this is a global trend that we can witness happening from Latin America to West Africa, from West Africa to Europe all the way to Asia. Everywhere we see a conjunction of activating communities, local and national governments coming up with incentives and tax reductions to producing sustainable and renewable energy, and civil society organisations alongside with enterprises on the forefront pioneering this new mindset that includes environmental preservation, social justice, profit making and employment opportunities. There is a quite large network of bodies and organisations out there advocating for recognising, validating and implementing green jobs and it is growing across the public, private and third sectors. A clear definition of what a “Green Job” is may not yet exist, however, one clear thing is that this time of employment has a bottom-up approach, is people centred and is the result of grassroot initiatives (until now mostly initiated by the civil society). We are still in the piloting phase of green employment, and we can witness countless projects, from small to large-scale on the creation of green livelihoods, focused on developing, at least to some extent, local autonomy and control when it comes to production and distribution, forming cross-sectoral networks and alliances in order to pressure stakeholders, authorities and the market on the importance and efficacy of green economy and therefore green jobs.
Now imagine how many people are employed today in fossil-fuels, gas and carbon based energy production processes, of course it requires a lot of workers with the most diverse backgrounds, from the extraction plants, to the pipelines and transport as well as refineries and energy management. This requires a plethora of workers and specialists to be located in the same working place in order to make all the infrastructures work properly, which means a constant need of workers’ relocation and movement to the workplace.
What if at least part of the energy production and distribution are localised, then there will be a need for local professionals for the management, installment, maintenance, etc. of these local renewable energy sources, thus upskilling existing workers, maintaining a local job active market in the field of energy, and answering multiple local needs, from energy to employability. The best thing about this is that regardless of whether the communities are located in the developing or developed world at this stage we are all together just taking the very first step.