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Report: Protecting Workers Key to Phasing Out Fossil-Fuel Dependence

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Key elements for phasing out fossil fuels in a managed way include social protection for fossil fuel workers, sound investments in low-emission sectors, and local economic diversification. (Pixabay)
Key elements for phasing out fossil fuels in a managed way include social protection for fossil fuel workers, sound investments in low-emission sectors, and local economic diversification. (Pixabay)
June 4, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- As Wyoming's oil and gas sector continues to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic, a new report in the journal Climate Policy outlines how lawmakers can diversify revenue streams and begin phasing out reliance on fossil fuels.

Report co-author Sivan Kartha, senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, says phasing out fossil fuels is necessary across the globe to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but it doesn't have to be chaotic.

And he says oil, gas and coal workers should be at the center of transitioning to a clean energy economy.

"We have to put workers first," Kartha states. "We have to do this in a way that creates a better future for them. Better jobs, safer jobs, jobs that keep them healthier, jobs that provide good wages and good benefits and health care."

Kartha says in wealthy nations such as the U.S., the burden of switching to cleaner energy does not have to rest solely on the shoulders of oil and gas-producing states like Wyoming.

While many nations are developing plans to reduce fossil fuel use, the U.S. currently is going in the opposite direction, prioritizing extraction industries in order to achieve a policy of energy dominance.

The report's recommendations include developing cooperative strategies so that states such as Wyoming, and nations such as the Congo, get help diversifying their economies to create new revenue streams.

Kartha contends the recent global drop in demand shows that being a net oil and gas exporter made the U.S. economy more vulnerable during the health emergency.

"As we just saw, when the global oil markets were spinning all over the place, when those prices went down, when they went down globally, that very strongly affected workers here," he states.

The report says wealthy countries need to take the lead in managing the phase-out, otherwise poorer oil dependent nations won't join what must truly be a global effort.

According to the world's leading climate scientists, just a decade remains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to safe levels.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY