THE GREEN DEAL’S LABOR CHALLENGE: Earlier this week, we wrote about the challenges facing the EU this year as it tackles the energy transition. Thomas Nowak, secretary-general of the European Heat Pump Association, wrote in to point out another major question the EU needs to answer: Who will carry out the physical labor needed to decarbonize the Continent?
Slash the costs: “We are talking a lot about financing the transition, not leaving anybody behind, providing support for the poorest households … But when it comes to heating and buildings, we see a shortcoming of skilled labor,” Nowak said. “There is a sufficient number of workers capable of carrying out the work, but there isn’t an economically attractive case for that labor.” Nowak argued that in the heating and building sectors, laborers will often push for fossil solutions because they’re cheaper and faster to install.
Brussels’ role: Nowak called on the Commission to raise the issue in an Energy Council meeting in order to spur action at the member country level. More long term, he added that Brussels needed to take the lead in ensuring that “the greenest solutions are the cheapest, so that the energy transition doesn’t happen on the backs of the end users.”
German concerns: The skilled labor shortage is very much on the German climate minister’s mind. Germany has 390,000 jobs going unfilled, a number expected to rise to 1 million, Robert Habeck said Tuesday. “Even if we do everything right, we have to make sure that wind turbines are built, that we have the crane operators, that solar panels are installed, that we have the craftsmen … these are raw material issues, but they are also labor issues.”