We recently helped the climate-action charity Possible produce this report into how aviation workers could be redeployed in a low-carbon travel/tourism sector.
They found that reductions in aviation demand could generate a net increase of up to 340,000 jobs. New jobs could be created in low-emission travel, domestic tourism, aerospace R&D and alternative jet fuel production.
The report demonstrates that aviation jobs per passenger mile travelled have been on a steady decline under business-as-usual.
The analysis looks at what would be required to halve aviation emissions by 2030, in line with IPCC targets. The combination of a modal shift to ground transport (train travel) for short distances, a reduction in total air miles travelled, and a ramp-up of electro-fuels (produced from renewable electricity) for the remaining air travel – leads to a rebound in jobs.
While degrowth in air miles may feel intuitively bad for workers, this isn’t the case for a number of reasons:
- Climate change is a severe risk to the future of aviation because if we blow through our carbon budget for 1.5degC global warming – we might have to ground all aircraft, and many tourism destinations may become unvisitable.
- Policies such as increased fuel tax and frequent flyer levies put a price on emissions and this will accelerate technological development in the sector e.g. more rapid R&D of hydrogen aircraft. Airports and airlines will need to be reconfigured and this will involve lots of work.
- The production of electro-fuels/hydrogen will involve lots of jobs in the fuels sector and building/operating the necessary renewable energy.
- The modal shift to ground transport and more localised tourism will also create jobs.
It’s worth saying that these future scenarios are just indicative of what’s possible: they’re alternative versions of the future of air travel if we act quickly and decisively. However, it’s likely that our leaders won’t act in time to e.g. introduce the necessary policies, scale renewables to produce enough e-fuels and begin modifying our infrastructure, which will take many years.
Given there is currently a black hole in government and industry strategy – we’re keen to support more of these studies!
Report by Possible – check out the full report: https://www.wearepossible.org/latest-news/creating-jobs-with-climate-friendly-travel