Ahead of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, the Labour Party has called on the government to support green jobs and ‘Build it in Britain’.
The call follows an extensive consultation run by the political party of businesses, trade unions and other stakeholders around what a "credible green recovery" should look like. In total, it received almost 2,000 responses, with the need to recover jobs proving key in throughout.
By dedicating at least £30 billion in the next 18 months to low-carbon sectors as part of a rapid stimulus package, an estimated 400,000 additional jobs could be created.
An emergency training programme should be brought in to retrain workers affected by the unemployment crisis, allowing them to gain the skills needed for the future green economy. Additionally, businesses should be rebuilt by creating a National Investment Bank focused on green investment, similar to those that operate in other countries. This could act to ensure public investment aids rather than hinders net-zero.
Ed Miliband MP, shadow secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “We face a jobs emergency and a climate emergency. It's time for a bold and ambitious plan to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs which can also tackle the climate crisis.
"This is the right thing to do for so many people who are facing unemployment, the right thing to do for our economy to get a lead in the industries of the future and the right thing to do to build a better quality of life for people in our country.”
A number of areas were identified in the consultation where there is great scope for action now to support both jobs and climate ambitions. These include expanding investment in Carbon Capture and Storage and hydrogen, accelerating planned investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and broadening the energy efficiency and retrofit programmes.
Additionally, this includes investing in upgrading ports and shipyards for offshore wind supply. This follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to reach 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including investing £160 million to help upgrade ports and factories, enabling them to manufacture the turbines needed.
Anneliese Dodds MP, shadow chancellor of the exchequer, said: “Labour is ambitious for Britain. We can harness the opportunities for green growth if the government takes the right decisions now.
“In recent years, and particularly during this crisis, our country has fallen behind in the drive to a cleaner, greener economy. We’ve seen far more rhetoric than action - and that has cost our country jobs.”
The calls follow criticism of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget in March for not going far enough to pursue net zero. Since that point, the COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread economic concerns, throwing into particular light the need to support green jobs as the UK moves forward and tackles both the impact of the pandemic and climate change.
“Future generations will judge us by the choices we make today to tackle the unemployment crisis and face up to the realities of the climate emergency," continued Dodds.
“That’s why we need coordinated action to support 400,000 jobs of the future today, not tomorrow. Now’s the time to build it in Britain.”
The call was welcomed by thinktank IPPR, which in May called on the government to invest at least £30 billion in a green recovery from COVID-19
Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director for energy, climate, housing and infrastructure, said that with a vaccine for COVID-19 potentially imminent, now was the time for the government to "invest for the future, to create jobs and opportunity across the country, lower emissions and restore nature, and address wider inequality".
"IPPR analysis has shown that the government is investing a little over a tenth of the funds needed to meet net zero and restore nature. So while a stimulus is needed now, there will also need to be sustained investment annually to tackle the climate and nature crises.
"There are huge opportunities to be harnessed in the low carbon economy but the government must set out a clear strategy, ambitious policies and the investment needed to realise them."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will conduct a one-year Spending Review on 25 November, outlining the government’s response to COVID-19 with a particular focus on jobs as it sets out how it plans to ‘Build Back Better’.
In Labour’s call to the government to support a green recovery, Miliband finished: “As other countries lead the way with a green recovery, Britain is hesitating. It's time to end the dither and inaction, and start delivering now.
“It is what the British people deserve and what the crises we face demand."