A net-zero approach to climate change could create 1.7 million green collar jobs in the UK concludes think tank Onward

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Tackling climate change is not only good for the environment it could be good for jobs too. That’s the conclusion of a new report  ‘Greening the Giants’ from think tank Onward.

It estimates that if the UK Government adopts the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget advice and supports businesses accordingly, it can deliver some 1.7 million new ‘green-collar’ jobs by 2030.

Most of the new jobs would be in the energy industry but there would also be some in manufacturing.

Crucial to the plan though would be the government adopting the CCC’s advice for the Sixth Carbon Budget, which would see the UK reducing emissions by 78% by 2035, against a 1990 baseline. In order to meet the target the CCC advocates a scaling up of renewable energy generation, electric vehicles, nature conservation and restoration, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage.

Onward’s report highlights 12 sectors dubbed “carbon giants” which attribute more than 2% of the UK’s annual emissions. These include aviation, agriculture, steel, manufacturing, construction, land transport, power generation, shipping and fishing, waste and sewerage, extractives and retail.

Onward believes that some 1.7 million new full-time equivalent roles could be created in these sectors by 2030 with most of the roles relating to energy efficiency and low-carbon heating. 

“The UK has successfully halved its emissions since 1990, but that means the low-hanging fruit have already been picked,” report co-author Ted Christie-Miller said.

“The next phase will require the wholesale transformation of industries that are integral to our economy and vital for regional jobs. It is essential the Government helps these industries to make the transition, while helping new net-zero industries to flourish. “

Caroline Flint, co-chair of the Getting to Zero commission: “Is it possible to level up and get to net zero when carbon intensive industries are concentrated in the Midlands and the North of England and Scotland? Our report “Greening the Giants” provides some of the answers to how the dirty dozen can be reborn. And if policymakers make the right calls these transformed industries can be located in the very same areas that right now are set to lose out.”

The government has recently been criticised for what critics have described as a not joined-up approach to achieving net-zero. The report also comes days after the government unveiled its new plans for the oil and gas industries which had recommendations which in the main disappointed environmentalists.

The report’s six key recommendations are

The report puts forward 25 recommendations for the Government to green the giants and ease the transition for these high-emitting industries, while maximising the domestic economic potential of the transition to boost jobs and growth, including:

  1. Establish a Net Zero Delivery Taskforce, modelled on the Vaccines Taskforce, with a specific remit and ministerial backing to initiate major government sponsored trials of high risk, high reward technologies still in the R&D phase.
  2. Introduce a new industrial Contracts for Difference scheme for green hydrogen and carbon capture, building on the success of CfDs in encouraging wind and solar renewables over the last decade.
  3. Introduce a Carbon Takeback Obligation (CTBO) requiring importers and extractors of fossil fuels to permanently store a percentage of carbon dioxide generated by the products they sell, rising from 1% in 2025 to 10% in 2035.
  4. Require a proportion of the materials in net zero technologies to be sourced from the UK supply chains, to reduce import emissions and boost UK industry, building on the offshore wind sector deal, which committed industry to using 60% UK steel by 2030.
  5. Publish regional carbon budgets to hold local and mayoral authorities accountable for their progress on emissions, while devolving responsibility for EV charging networks and retrofitting housing stock to local government.
  6. Use the UK’s chairmanship of the G7 in the summer to promote the idea of the Green7, using the world’s most powerful countries to drive decarbonisation alongside economic and national security.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash



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