During the Yellow Vest carbon tax revolts in response to Macron’s “green piety”, the soil beneath the old spirits of freedom and the factories overheated the links between the material and social questions. The heat made noticeable the relations between ecological changes and social justice, and we accepted that instead of opposing ecology and economy, we would have to answer both questions in the same breath.

The Yellow Vest belonged to a collective who needed gasoline and the motorways, to reach this place or that place in order to get to this job, which allowed them to receive this salary, making it possible for them to eat this food. These concrete material conditions of their daily existence defined their position in the social landscape and allowed them to thrive, making the people who disallowed them from occupying that state-space their enemies. After the riots, class demarcations became more and more out of focus globally with the COVID-19 pandemic and the BLM movement. But much less visible, but much more violent, were the concealed entanglements between socioeconomic trends and the climatologists.

The climate issue has now entered the post-C19 world of politics as a new frontier of productivity and brings into stark relief the opportunity to create millions of new green-jobs everywhere and to influence the future of work. The task is to ensure that workers who thrived in yesterday’s and today’s industries have as bright a tomorrow in the novel industries of the future.

Countries that do not catch up on clean energy investments will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future in a way that reflects their interests and values and will lose out on green-jobs of the future and the chance to revalidate higher education content. The value of the global renewable energy market is projected to reach US$2.1tn by 2025. That is over 35 times the size of the current market for renewables in the US alone. Moreover, roles for solar and wind technicians are now the fastest growing sectors of the jobs market in the US.

Canada, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the US, collectively representing 40 per cent of global oil and gas production, have agreed to create a “Net-Zero” producers’ club that will develop pragmatic net-zero emissions strategies, including methane abatement, advancing the circular carbon economy approach, development and deployment of clean energy, carbon capture and storage technologies, and diversification from reliance on hydrocarbon revenues.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, believes that a robust price on carbon alongside the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies would send critical market signals to produces and consumers in all sectors of the economy. Xi Jinping intends to be the dominant voice at COP26 in Glasgow. China intends to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. To regain a voice, Biden had set a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, following the years during which Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord and rolled back the rules designed to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Legislating strict new carbon-cutting targets will also help to pave a clear path for rapid behavioural changes from businesses and households.

Boris Johnson inherited ambitious targets from Theresa May, who signed into law plans to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Once a borderline climate sceptic, COVID-19 has helped Boris to become a frontrunner and a global-green-leader. The UK intends to reduce its emissions by 78 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2035, a legally binding pledge that includes aviation and shipping for the first time.

International aviation and shipping have typically been excluded in country pledges, despite their significant emissions, in part because of their cross-border nature. This swings targets upwards from the previous goal of cutting emissions by 68 per cent by 2030. This matches the commitment from the EU to cut emissions by 55 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and China’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2060. The UK is therefore “front-loading” its emissions cuts in the years to 2035.

Power systems in the UK have shifted to offshore wind and solar, but these adjustments are the easiest. Squeezing carbon out of household energy, food production, transport systems and manufacturing will be more challenging. The UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) estimates that the planned changes will cost about 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2050, well below the 1-2 per cent the CCC previously estimated.  Lord Turner at an Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit event pointed out much of the transition would be facilitated by new technologies that are now cheaper. He added that carbon-intensive sectors like steel and cement would see increases in input costs.

Across Europe, homes will shift to using electricity for heating. In the West Indies, to reduce cooling costs,  it will be meaningful to revisit the brilliance of George Brown, Anthony C Lewis and Collin Laird designs. New legislation can also make it obligatory for buildings to generate 40 per cent of their own power requirements from wind and solar. If we don’t catch up on clean energy investments, we will miss the chance to shape the world’s climate future.