Accelerating the rollout of energy efficiency and low carbon heating technologies could help create tens of thousands of jobs as we come out of the COVID-19 lockdown.
A new report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) looked at the potential for energy to bolster regions that have been hit particularly hard by the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The report, entitled 'Sealing the 'Red Wall': How home energy retrofits could level up the post-Covid jobs market in the UK's hardest-hit areas' shows that investing in low-carbon jobs has huge potential to help the UK ‘level up’.
The report highlights that some areas have been hit harder than others by COVID-19, in particular the northwest and southwest of England and the West Midlands, an area known as the Red Wall’ constituencies in the 2019 election.
Jess Ralston, analyst at the ECIU and the report’s author, said: “Many deprived areas were suffering long before coronavirus, but now have the added pressures of increased unemployment and the economic shocks of lockdown.
“Home retrofits for energy efficiency and low carbon heat, renewables and electric vehicles offer crucial ‘Red Wall’ areas that have been hardest hit a chance to build back better, giving a welcome jobs boost to areas that need it most.”
If all homes had their energy efficiency improved to EPC band C by 2030, the Gross-Added Value (GVA) would entirely counteract that lost during the pandemic for example.
“Disadvantaged areas need not stay that way,” states the report. “Coronavirus opens up a unique opportunity to shake up the economy and boost the prospects of many living in areas apt for levelling up. Progression on housing efficiency targets, renewable energy and decarbonised transport in the areas that need it most is shown to also boost skilled employment and GVA.”
The report calls for ‘shovel-ready’ projects to be given the go ahead, helping to boost construction jobs in particular. There are 737 ‘shovel-ready’ renewable electricity projects, mainly across the North East and North West and Wales currently for example.
A huge host of associations, businesses, charities and citizens groups have now called on the government to place net zero at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery, utilising renewable energy projects amongst others to help rebuild the economy and create jobs.