I have written before about how firms can no longer claim ignorance about the harmful effects of climate change. By now, they must know their greenhouse gas pollution causes harm to people.

That being said, it seems both ethical and politically pragmatic for governments to offer assistance to those people who are moving from industries that have little or no future in a low-carbon economy (such as the oil and gas sector) to those that have better prospects. Specifically, it seems appropriate to provide special programs and funds for retraining, since it is especially challenging for someone who has worked in one industry for a long span of time to move into another line of work unassisted.

Just as we should avoid circumstances where physical capital goes to waste (for instance, situations where tightening emissions regulations forced facilities to close before the end of their natural lives), we should be wary of discarding the knowledge and experience of workers in carbon intensive industries. With some assistance, effort, and ingenuity – however – it seems plausible that many of their skills can be applied usefully within an economy that is moving into line with what the climate can withstand.

2 thoughts on “Re-training

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