London, Tees Valley and County Durham residents call for better support for green jobs

The organisers of citizens' climate juries in London and North East have revealed their key calls to actions for Mayors, councils and the central government, including job creation in low-carbon sectors and a longer-term alternative to the Green Homes Grant.

London, Tees Valley and County Durham residents call for better support for green jobs

Pictured: London and Durham

The London project, coordinated by Citizens UK, released its conclusions through a new Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report this week after ten months of discussions. Taking the members’ calls to action into account, the think-tank has translated them into quantitative targets for the UK Government and for London’s next Mayor.

Entitled ‘London: A Just Transition City’, the report names air pollution, fuel poverty, home energy efficiency and green jobs and apprenticeships as priority areas of action.

On fuel poverty and energy efficiency, the IPPR report is recommending that at least 100,000 homes classed as fuel poor are retrofitted over the next Mayoral term. After the central Government pulled the majority of the £2bn funding initially allocated for the Green Homes Grant, the IPPR recommends that landlords and local authorities should instead complete the work, with incentives from either City Hall or the Government.

On green jobs, the report recommends the creation of 60,000 green jobs and apprenticeships in sectors relating to nature and the low-carbon transition over the next mayoral term. Workers in these jobs should be paid at the living wage as a minimum and the roles should be accessible to those in underprivileged communities, the IPPR is urging.

Participants in the project also agreed that London – and the UK as a whole – must do more to connect climate action with social justice.

“Covid-19 has shone a light on and worsened inequalities across our capital city – yet this report shows that action to tackle the climate crisis can help us build back better after the pandemic,” the head of the IPPR’s environmental justice commission Luke Murphy said.

“To succeed, Londoners are clear that they want to see the benefits and the risks of the net-zero transition to be fairly shared. And they want the next mayor to focus on delivering well-paid green jobs and securing warmer homes and reducing fuel poverty.”

The points made about green jobs echo those of IEMA’s chief executive Sarah Mukherjee and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) director of policy Eliot Whittington, who recently spoke at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum. You can read a summary of their key discussion points by clicking here.

Heathrow Airport

In related news, a group of 61 current and former Heathrow Airport employees have this week signed an open letter to the next London Mayor urging more support for green jobs in aviation and related sectors.

The letter states: “We are now bearing the impact of the end of the furlough scheme and the huge wave of redundancies. Some of our companies have made more than 450 employees redundant… We are calling on all London Mayoral candidates to create a Green Jobs Coalition comprised of businesses, unions, charities, faith groups, colleges and other training organisations to make our demands for green jobs and an end to fuel poverty a reality.”

Earlier this week, Heathrow Airport confirmed that it has received government funding for two major R&D projects. One is developing a net-zero roadmap for aviation across the UK and the other is exploring how emerging technologies like cloud infrastructure and blockchain could be used to collect and manage data.

Tees Valley and County Durham

As well as London, IPPR also supports a citizens’ ‘climate jury’ in the North East, comprising people from Tees Valley and County Durham. It received more than 4,000 applicants for the group, of whim, 23 have been selected to form a climate panel. The panel claims to e broadly representative of the region in terms of background and views on climate issues.

The jurors produced their latest report this week, urging the Government to develop a “swift and decisive, clear, and consistent” policy response to the climate crisis, underpinning the net-zero transition and recognising the intersections between decarbonisation, resource use, nature and social sustainability.

BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng recently admitted that the UK needs a stronger and more joined-up policy framework to deliver its net-zero target and claimed that decisions such as not blocking a new coal mine in Cumbria “send mixed messages”.

The citizens’ jury’s key asks include:

  • More support for regions to deliver just transition plans that are specific to their most prominent industries
  • Better education on climate and nature issues in schools
  • Lifelong learning opportunities regarding environmental issues
  • The launch of a National Nature Service
  • Carbon taxes, to be introduced incrementally and targeted at the highest emitters
  • More ring-fenced green funding, through mechanisms like the new National Investment Bank
  • The creation of similar citizens’ juries for all regions

“People need to feel ownership of the action taken and committed to what comes next,” the jurors wrote. “The action we take has to be a beneficial change in people’s lives – it is something they want to be involved in, and will improve their lives. We need young people to be educated in these issues as they will be most affected.”

“Businesses and investors need to be part of the solution,” the respondents continued. “Where they aren’t willing to act in the way that’s needed, they need to be regulated. They need to be incentivised to act, but there need to be penalties if they don’t.”

Sarah George

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