Thinktank says transition to low-carbon economy could result in ‘local deprivation’
— As many as 28,000 jobs will be lost in the north of England in the next 12 years under the government’s drive towards a low-carbon economy, a thinktank has warned.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said in its report that the region could be at the heart of a “clean energy revolution” – with a potential for 46,000 new green jobs – but instead faced economic decline under current plans.
Luke Murphy, an associate director at IPPR and co-author of the report, said: “With nearly half of the UK’s renewable energy being produced in the north, it is clear that the region is ideally placed to deliver a green jobs revolution of 46,000 new jobs by 2030.”
Murphy described the move towards a low-carbon economy as an “urgent necessity” to limit the impact of global warming. He urged ministers to commit to a more ambitious decarbonisation policy “where communities are protected from decline” which he said must be at the heart of its industrial strategy.
The north of England produced 48% of the UK’s renewable electricity between 2005 and 2014, the report said, yet the region is also home to the largest number of coal and gas power stations in England.
The report, published on Monday, calls on the government to “learn from the mistakes of the past” and avoid a repeat of the catastrophic economic decline that followed the closure of coal, steel and shipbuilding industries across the north since the early 1980s.
Yet, the thinktank said, proposals to limit the damaging effect on communities and help workers retrain were not mentioned in the government’s industrial or clean growth strategies.
The report concluded: “If the government continues to ignore these workers, there is a real risk that the transition to a low-carbon economy will result in jobs losses or the forced acceptance of low-quality jobs, an increase in people on welfare benefits and an increase in local deprivation.”
Josh Emden, a research fellow at IPPR and co-author of the report, said: “The government must learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that this time there is a just transition into the low-carbon energy sector and beyond, for workers in the north of England who have powered the UK for decades.
“The good news is that the opportunity is there for the north of England to become a powerhouse for the UK once again, provided the government takes the critical policy action needed.”
The government is reviewing its target to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 in the wake of a landmark report by the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) earlier this month.
Leading climate change experts warned there was only 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
A government spokesperson said: “The move to a cleaner, greener economy is one of the greatest opportunities for our country. With the potential to create 2 million new jobs by 2030, clean growth is a key focus of our modern industrial strategy.
“Last week, we celebrated our first Green GB Week, showcasing the benefits clean growth will bring to all parts of society – from new businesses and jobs to leaving our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”
by Josh Halliday | The Guardian