December 14 2015

What we learned from COP21: Paris Climate Change talks

Following the 2015 Climate Conference in Paris, many of the key outcomes outlined in the new global deal hold huge implications for our industrial attitude to climate change, not least for the energy sector.

Ministers from all over the world have met to negotiate the terms set out in a draft agreement - four years in the making. The document has been at the centre of the debate in France that began on November 30 th and ended after a fortnight of tense political discussions. The crux of this argument was how to contain the global warming increase “well below 2°C”, with the aim of limiting it to 1.5°C in recognition that this would offer the most feasible chance of lowering climate change risks.

Politicians remain divided, with the most vulnerable nations calling for funding to help affected communities deal with the long-term impact of climate change, a request supported by UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Meanwhile, developed nations are slowly edging towards a settlement forming what is being referred to as the ‘coalition of high ambition’. Yet, Francois Hollande, president of the hosting country, believes there are ‘still difficulties’ to overcome in securing a compromise ahead of the conclusion of COP21.

Challenges in the UK energy sector

Naturally, there are some huge issues to resolve, not least because climate change presents challenges for the world’s entire energy production and transmission.

The energy sector is both a major contributor to climate change and an industry that is directly affected by disruption or policy changes as a result of it. The outcome of December’s climate conference is likely to weigh heavy on all aspects of the energy sector, including its workforce.

The energy sector is likely to experience multiple changes in coming decades and the targets laid out in in this fortnight’s resulting agreement will transform the way that whole industries operate.

There are some positive take-away points from the negotiations in Paris, however. Investment is necessary to meet the much debated 2°C decline, estimated at USD 190-900 billion annually until 2050. This funding would not only count towards reducing air and water pollution, but could create several employment opportunities as the sector sets about decarbonising in the next few decades.

Speaking at the conference, David Cameron said: “The UK has led by example, spending 50 per cent of our climate finance to improve climate resilience. And I hope the Paris deal sets others on course to meet this commitment.”

In fact, tactical investment will realise important advantages for global economies, growing workforces with new energy jobs and recruitment in its supporting sectors, as well as laying the path for industrial innovation such as low-carbon technologies.

An interest in transferring energy production to cleaner alternatives is already established, for instance, in 2012 over half the total net investment into electricity was in low-carbon methods.

In November, the Secretary of State for Energy, Amber Rudd, discussed the UK’s move to cleaner energy production – a resolve made clear by the proposed closure of coal power stations and investment in future off-shore wind.

The sector will need to react, ensuring that employees understand the new skillset required of them, that transferable skills are fostered from an earlier point in their education, and that there is sufficient training to build a resilient future for energy.

As global warming increases, the sector needs to adapt, be ready to respond to policy changes and implement new skills where necessary.

Image Credit: Ron Mader ( This image has been edited from the original.


For more information into employment options in the sector visit the energy recruitment page.

Stay up to date

Keep up to date with our latest news and analysis by subscribing to our regular newsletter

To find out about how we process your data, please read our privacy policy.