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‘Extraordinary opportunity’ to create green jobs as part of COVID-19 recovery

Tens of thousands of jobs could be created around the country.

Tens of thousands of jobs could be created around the country.

Putting green jobs at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery could help level-up the UK's net zero commitment according to a new report.

Researchers from the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment highlighted six key areas where the government could invest, creating both jobs and decarbonisation.

These include renewable power generation, distribution and storage, electric vehicle (EV) production and charging infrastructure and carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), as well as green hydrogen.

By investing in these areas now, tens of thousands of jobs could be created around the country, the report argues, in the near term as well as setting the groundwork for sustainable and resilient longer-term economic growth.

Report co-author Sam Unsworth, policy analyst at the Grantham Research Institute, said there is an “urgent and immediate demand” for labour-intensive investments that could address large-scale unemployment triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The job-creating investments we set out in our report are key to meeting net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“These investments are complementary to each other since they are likely to create near-term employment opportunities across a number of regions, supporting a UK-wide recovery from COVID-19 and helping to prevent places from being left behind.”

Short term investments to create jobs should be complemented by long term polices and incentives for building innovation and skill training to meet longer-term challenges, the report said.

Already, the UK has manufacturing strengths in a number of green technologies including making parts of wind turbines, it continued. In further developing these, there are still more benefits in the role the UK can play in global demand for cleaner, more environmentally friendly products and technologies.

The report draws on a number of other previous bodies of research, such as a report showing EV production could create 80,000 jobs by 2030 and offshore wind power could create 60,000 by 2032, and one from National Grid that suggested together renewable power generation, EV charging infrastructure, hydrogen and CCUS could create 400,000 jobs by 2040.

Anna Valero, ESRC innovation fellow at the Centre for Economic Performance and report co-author, said that looking beyond the COVID-19 crisis, there are “extraordinary opportunities” in transitioning to a green economy for “sustainable, resilient and more inclusive growth".

“With global demand for cleaner and more environmentally-friendly products and technologies set to increase rapidly in the coming decades, countries that take early action to develop green innovation and production capabilities are likely to reap significant growth benefits.

“The UK’s future economic, social and environmental prosperity will be shaped in large part by how it deals with, and recovers from, the impact of COVID-19. Our work highlights the opportunity for the UK to ‘build back better’ from the crisis.”

The report builds on previous calls for a number of groups to ensure that the economic recovery from the current pandemic has net zero at its core.

The UK100 group of local leaders called on the government to establish a Net Zero Development Bank to help drive the country towards net zero and ‘build back better’.

The Aldersgate Group set out a four point action plan for the government in its recent Rebuild to Last report, asking it to commit to low carbon stimulus to ‘deliver lasting and positive change’ in the wake of COVID. Whilst SSE and ScottishPower have both produced action plans, highlighting the need for electrification of transport and the creation of green jobs in particular.

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