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Impact of Climate Crisis on Jobs and Workers: 3 Critical Insights

Climate Crisis

Discover how the climate crisis affects workers’ health, productivity, and job stability. Learn about alarming statistics and positive shifts toward sustainable practices.


While working in a climate-controlled office, it’s easy to overlook the impact of the climate crisis on jobs and workers. However, within seven years, up to 3.8% of global working hours could be lost to climate-induced high temperatures, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). This article highlights three key ways the climate crisis is reshaping the job landscape.

1. Climate-Induced Health Risks for Workers:

The climate crisis poses significant health risks to workers. Heat stress led to 36 work-related deaths in the US in 2021, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, over 65 million workers face climate-related health risks. The EPA outlines five key health impacts:

  • Heat-related ill-health: Apart from heat stroke and exhaustion, fatigue from working in high temperatures increases the risk of errors, potentially leading to accidents or worse.
  • Respiratory illnesses: Deteriorating air quality due to factors like wildfires and droughts exacerbates respiratory conditions for outdoor workers.
  • Physical and mental health impacts: Frontline workers, like firefighters and healthcare professionals, bear a heavy physical and psychological toll from extreme weather events.
  • Diseases: Warmer temperatures lead to an increase in disease-carrying insects, heightening the risk of infections.
  • Pesticide-related impacts: The rise in insects may lead to increased pesticide use, affecting agricultural workers exposed to toxic chemicals.

Studies show that productivity drops when temperatures exceed 24-26°C, with manual labor-intensive jobs experiencing more significant declines at 33-34°C. Other climate-related factors, such as air pollution, exacerbate existing health conditions, leading to further productivity loss. The Lancet warns that low-income countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, are at the highest risk of reduced labor productivity due to the climate crisis.

3. Job Impacts Stemming from Extreme Weather Events:

Extreme weather events, from floods to wildfires, can cause substantial damage to business assets, transport routes, and critical infrastructure. This leads to job losses, as predicted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). In 2022, climate change-related events incurred a staggering $313 billion in global economic costs, surpassing the 21st-century average by 4%. However, there is hope. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report anticipates a positive shift towards sustainable energy practices and climate adaptation, expected to be “net job creators.”


The climate crisis is reshaping the global workforce, impacting health, productivity, and job stability. As societies address these challenges, transitioning to sustainable energy sources and prioritizing climate adaptation efforts offer a promising way forward for both the environment and the job market.

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