Prospects for Jobs in The Green Economy

3 minutes read

Green Business could be a major driver of growth

As the party conference season draws to a close the three major UK parties have been anxious to tell us that they will create employment, but strangely, none of them seemed to really see the potential for green jobs. In the light of the latest IPCC report, the first part of which was released on friday, it is clear that if we are to get out of our self-inflicted difficulties we need to move towards a different lifestyle – less reliant on fossil fuels and more on energy from renewables. Beyond that zero carbon housebuilding and refurbishment, electric vehicles, organic farming, even eco holidays, are areas where jobs will be available in the future. Last year, the CBI, that notable haven for eco-warriors and hippies, said that a major part of the growth in the economy had come from green companies: “Over a third of the UK’s economic growth in 2011-12 is likely to have come from green business” CBI, 2012.

The TUC published a report that the UK needs one million climate change jobs – that is jobs concerned with moderating climate change, rather than more general green jobs, and with UK unemployment at 2.49 million, this would be a huge opportunity to gain skills in a worthwhile career, rather than doing make-work stacking shelves in supermarkets. However this seems optimistic in the current economic situation that Britain faces. However, in 2010-2011 there were 939, 600 low carbon and environmental jobs, which is nearly as many as in financial services (1,061,900) and nearly twice that of Motor Trade manufacture and retail (518,400). And yet green business and employment does not get the media coverage or government backing that either of those sectors do (figures from a Green Alliance report).

Infographic compiled by CBI
Infographic compiled by CBI

Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report, said in the FT, “Everywhere evidence is emerging of opportunities afforded by new energy sources that are more efficient and less polluting. No investor should fail to be impressed by how rapidly the costs of solar photovoltaics and other technologies are falling. Trillions of dollars of investment will be needed, but this will unleash decades of growth at a time when there is slack in many economies and interest rates are low.” The CBI expects the potential for green industries could add £20 billion to GDP. The UK already has a £5 billion trade surplus in green goods and services: it has the sixth largest market share in the world in low carbon goods and services. Ireland, too, is well placed to deliver energy services via renewables, with its good wind resource’ and several projects are in hand to develop energy interconnections with other countries.

However, more and more countries are joining the green economy and Britain is not adapting to sell its green goods and services as well as it should be. This does seem to be because, whatever they say, UK governments do not really see the full potential of the green sector, and do not give it the necessary backing. It is to be hoped that the possibilities for green businesses and employment are not to be wasted.

Green Alliance

The Guardian

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