The impacts of climate change mitigation on work for the Austrian economy

Maja Hoffmann, Clive L. Spash

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWU Working Paper


Climate change mitigation – reducing emissions to zero and substituting fossil fuels through
renewable energy within a maximum of two decades – entails major consequences for modern
industrial societies and economies. Industrial societies are structurally centred and dependent on
work, however, the implications for work are insufficiently studied. We conduct an empirical
analysis of the impacts of climate mitigation on work across all sectors of the Austrian national
economy. Using a mixed methods approach, we investigate all NACE-classified branches of
economic activity, the respective number of persons employed, CO2 emissions, fossil fuel use,
renewable energy potential, and the societal importance of work. We find that the impacts of
climate mitigation on work are far more substantial than the literature usually suggests. Required
are significant reductions of work across all sectors, and its structural reorganisation based on an
altered energy basis. Yet, potential for deployment of renewable energy technologies is currently
not given for many fields of work that are dependent on fossil fuels. While the category of essential
work further indicates the kinds of work that may be prioritised in transformation processes,
particularly problematic are those deemed both essential for society and incompatible with climate
mitigation. The study provides an initial empirical basis for substantiated differentiation of kinds of
work regarding these key aspects of climate change mitigation and structural transformation. It also
points to the need for institutions to address these challenges and the problematic ways in which
work is organised and held sacrosanct in modern society.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna
PublisherWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameSRE - Discussion Papers

WU Working Paper Series

  • SRE - Discussion Papers

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