Carbon-neutral industry: Developments in adapting to climate change and its mitigation as well as implications for value creation and employment in selected energy-intensive sectors

International and national targets for mitigating climate change and the policies geared to achieving these targets have provided a relevant framework for developing industry in Germany for around two decades. Very different adaptations are conceivable at the individual industrial sector and company levels, such as improving resource efficiency, deploying end-of-pipe technologies, changing input materials, diversifying the range of products and services, or even moving to locations outside Germany (carbon leakage). Also conceivable are incremental adaptations that can already be implemented in the short term, as well as disruptive innovations with a greater need (including time-wise) for further research and development.

These changes will affect employees and the work organisation in Germany. This pertains both to the volumes of work and qualifications required for specific production methods and the fact that industrial workers shouldn’t just be at the receiving end of changing production methods but, above all, must also be the agents of development.

However, the specific impacts on value creation structures, work organisation and employment are still largely unknown. Which forms of adaptation will become relevant in individual sectors and companies will depend on the measures taken by politicians and stakeholders in the sectors concerned. How these measures are implemented has therefore not only considerable relevance to environmental policy, but also considerable significance in industrial and employment policy terms.

In collaboration with the SUSTAIN CONSULT management consultancy company, the IGBCE Foundation for Work and Environment is carrying out a project to provide guidance on expected and potential developments in adapting to climate change and its mitigation in selected energy-intensive sectors. The focus here is on technological change processes as well as (work-related) organisational and employment policy aspects.

The initial results from the project are expected in spring 2020.