“Greening the transport sector in the post COVID-19 recovery could create up to 15 million jobs worldwide,” says the International Labour Organization. “Nearly half of global workforce at risk as job losses increase due to COVID-19” states the UN labour agency. Everyday we read headlines going in one direction or the other. Readers ask themselves what to believe, to hope for or to be scared about. The answer is: it depends.
According to the Global EV Outlook published by the International Energy Agency, Electric mobility continues to grow rapidly. In 2018, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million, up 2 million from the previous year and almost doubling the number of new electric car registrations. Even COVID-19 seemed not to be able to stop the triumphal march of electric mobility. We all enjoyed free roads and good air quality in the last months. Public voices are getting louder demanding transportation becoming greener and more sustainable. Countries like the UK are pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into the economy to ensure a green and safe commute and to improve infrastructure all around.
Therefore, this comes as no surprise for me that millions of jobs will be created in this sector. What COVID did is to point out the weak spots present within our society, businesses, organizations and families. Things which have not been working for a while but being kept up because it was comfortable or too difficult to think about, are looking now quite old-fashioned. The system starts to crack at all those weak points first. Everything seems to be up for questioning.
Coming back to the point of jobs and employment: as companies start to consider the future of business travel and commuting, mental health consultancy Mente is advising companies to consider the cost of wear and tear that regular business travel and commuting can have on employee health and wellbeing. Commuting can be a very stressful exercise, being locked-up for hours each week alone in a car, fighting through traffic and for parking spaces. Time could be spent so much better with exercising, reading, catching-up with friends or just sitting back and relaxing.
If those people who are currently working successfully from home continue to do so for most days of the week, traffic would continue to ease. Taking those cars away would give us more room for bike lines and pedestrian walkways, so those who still need to commute, can do this in a healthier and safer way. And for those who still prefer to sit in a warm and cosy vehicle there is always the option do use public transport or do ride pooling.
Through this, not only the transport sector would profit of an increase demand of employees – but industries which have suffered during COVID could gain too. Through spending less time and money on the commute, people can increase spending on goods and services again, go to fitness studios, enjoy a nice meal, or explore the local shops, museums and other offerings.
Written by Nicoletta Moss
Images by David Lariviere, Ella Jardim.