IEA World Energy Employment Report
On 8 September, the International Energy Agency published its first comprehensive report on jobs in the global energy sectors. The World Energy Employment Report provides data on energy jobs ‘by sector, region, and value chain segment’ and will be published annually.
The global energy sector (including energy end uses) employed over 65 million people in 2019, equivalent to around 2% of global employment.
The main messages of the report are:
- Employment is growing in the global energy sector, especially in clean energy;
- Around a third of workers are in energy fuel supply (coal, oil, gas and bioenergy), a third in the power sector (generation, transmission, distribution and storage), and a third in key energy end uses (vehicle manufacturing and energy efficiency);
- More than half of energy jobs are in the Asia-Pacific region;
- Women are strongly under-represented in the energy sector. Despite making up 39% of global employment, women account for only 16% in traditional energy sectors. They are even more under-represented in management functions.
Energy transition or energy descent?
The fundamental question of our time is whether the current Western industrial-capitalist system can survive the necessary shift from a fossil fuel-based economy to an economic model based on renewable energy sources. This shift (the ‘energy transition’) will have major impacts on our institutions, our governance systems, our culture, and our way of life.
One of the main challenges will be the availability of enough materials and minerals to make the green transition a reality.
An international term of energy experts recently published an academic review ‘On the History and Future of 100% Renewable Energy Systems Research’ which concludes that ‘100% renewables is feasible worldwide at low cost’.
A different view is expressed in a 2021 study by geometallurgy professor Simon Michaux for the Geological Survey of Finland. Michaux’s report ‘The Mining of Minerals and the Limits to Growth’ includes the table hereunder showing the future scarcity risks for some essential non-renewable resources:
To understand the huge long-term challenges for our global capitalist-industrial economies, there is no better introduction than the podcast interview with Professor Michaux on YouTube.