The rising temperature will have a significant impact on productivity and occupational safety and health in some countries, including Bangladesh, says a new global report.
Productivity losses are expected in developing and emerging economies like Bangladesh and Thailand, as well as some advanced economies like Australia and the United States, according to the report.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) came up with the observation in its new report titled ‘World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with Jobs’ a copy of which obtained by UNB.
The 189-page report says rising temperature increases the incidence of heat stress and health risks, and the proportion of working hours during which a worker needs to rest and cool down the body to maintain the core body temperature below 38°C and avoid heat stroke.
During the course of the century, and as a result of human-induced climate change, many of the more than 4 billion people who live in hot areas will experience negative health and safety effects and reduced work capacity.
Heat stress is an occupational safety and health (OSH) hazard, as indicated in manuals produced by OSH agencies around the world, and should be considered a hazard by workers, employers and governments.
Likewise, workers affected by heat stress are entitled to remedy benefits as prescribed under the Employment Injury Benefits Convention.
The growing prevalence of heat stress will reduce worker performance, partly because slowing down is a natural adaptation to heat exposure.
Heat stress will continue to reduce productivity and lead to negative occupational health effects and workplace injuries, particularly in the countries most exposed to extreme heat, in sectors that rely on outside and daytime work (e.g. agriculture, construction) and in areas with weaker adaptation (such as factories without effective cooling systems).
In developing countries, the ILO report says, the majority of workers suffering from heat stress are not covered by employment injury insurance.
Worldwide, only 34 percent of persons of working age are covered in case of an injury at work, says the ILO.
“The findings of our report underline that jobs rely heavily on a healthy environment and the services that it provides. The green economy can enable millions more people to overcome poverty, and deliver improved livelihoods for this and future generations. This is a very positive message of opportunity in a world of complex choices,” ILO Deputy Director-General Deborah Greenfield says.
The transition to a greener economy can create a net of 14 million jobs in Asia and the Pacific, with gains in fields of renewable energies, construction, manufacturing, and sustainable agriculture.
In Asia and the Pacific, economic growth remains coupled with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Environmental degradation is further exacerbated by the high volume of extraction; the region was responsible for 55 per cent of the 84 gigatons of materials extracted globally in 2013, including freshwater and raw materials.
Estimates show that between 2008 and 2015, the region lost an annual average of 536 working-life years per 100,000 working age people due to human-induced or climate change related disasters.
Heat stress is another concern, as rising temperatures impact the health of workers and reduce worker performance.
Southern Asia could face productivity losses equivalent to 4.8 percent, corresponding to around 40 million full-time jobs as a result of rising temperatures. Agriculture workers will be the most affected ones.
According to the report, actions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius will result in sufficient job creation to more than offset the expected job losses of 6 million in traditional energy sectors globally.
Most sectors of the economy will benefit from net job creation: of the 163 economic sectors analysed, only 14 will suffer employment losses of more than 10,000 jobs worldwide.
Some 2.5 million jobs will be created in renewables-based electricity, offsetting some 400,000 jobs lost in fossil fuel-based electricity generation, says the report.
New jobs will be created with the adoption of sustainable practices in the energy sector, including changes in the energy mix, promoting the use of electric vehicles and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
“Policy changes in these regions could offset the anticipated job losses or their negative impact. Low- and some middle-income countries still need support to develop data collection, and adopt and finance strategies towards a just transition to an environmentally sustainable economy and society that includes everyone from all groups of society,” says Catherine Saget, the lead author of the report.
Countries should take urgent actions to anticipate the skills needed for the transition to greener economies and provide new training programmes, says the report.
The transition to more sustainable agricultural systems would create jobs in medium and large organic farms, and allow smallholders to diversify their sources of income, notably if farmers have the right skills, it observed.
The report also shows that environmental laws, regulations and policies that include labour issues offer a powerful means to advance the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda and environmental objectives.
“Social dialogue which allows employers and workers to participate in the political decision-making process alongside governments plays a key role in reconciling social and economic objectives with environmental concerns,” Saget said.
There are cases in which such dialogue not only helped reduce the environmental impact of policies but also avoided a negative impact on employment or working conditions, says the lead author of the report.