Report: 10 million high-carbon jobs to be retrained or replaced as part of net-zero transition
Research from a new cross-party programme exploring the net-zero transition in the UK has warned that 10 million jobs will either need to be retrained or replaced if the nation is to meet its climate commitments.
Think tank Onward has launched a report to kickstart a cross-party programme that will use the build-up to COP26 to look at how the net-zero transition will decarbonise incumbent industries, retrain and upskill workers and introduce regulatory and financial support mechanisms to do so.
The research has found that some regions disproportionately rely on carbon-intensive industries for jobs. According to Onward, the East Midlands has the highest proportion of jobs in high emitting industries (42%), followed by the West Midlands (41%), Yorkshire and the Humber (38%), and the North West (38%). In contrast, London and the South East have just 23% and 34% of jobs located in high-emitting industries respectively.
More than half of high-emitting jobs are located in the Midlands, North and Scotland, prompting concerns that the net-zero transition may lead to higher levels of disruption in those areas.
Last year, MPs warned that failing to move quickly and raise climate ambitions could lead to the UK missing its net-zero target while worsening existing inequalities as the Government tries to spur an economic recovery. Doing so would enable the creation of “hundreds of thousands of new jobs” as part of a green recovery package focused on the net-zero goal.
Rt Hon Caroline Flint, Co-chair of the Getting to zero commission said: “The challenge of net-zero is immense; the deadlines are rushing towards us. This requires faster decision making than we are used to in British politics, as we change our industries, our homes, how we get from place to place and the very energy we use. In cleaning up our act, no community should be left behind.
“They will all have to be part of the journey and share the benefits. I look forward to working with Dame Caroline Spelman and the wide range of contributors to the Getting to Zero project.”
The research warns that up to 10 million jobs will need to be replaced or retained as part of the net-zero transition.
MPs have previously called for the creation of a “Net Zero and Just Transition” delivery body that would oversee how the net-zero transition would benefit all areas and locations covered by the UK economy. The body should be supported by £5bn in investment to support region, with the IPPR noting that two-thirds of the UK’s 460,000 green jobs are located outside London and the South East. A coalition of trade unions urged the UK Government to create a cross-party commission focused on ensuring that the transition to net-zero by 2050 is socially and economically "just".
However, the UK is better positioned than most nations to decarbonise in a just manner. The UK has delivered the highest rates of decarbonisation across industrial, heat and electricity sectors in the G& since 1990. Over the same period, China and India have seen their manufacturing and industrial emissions grow by 370% and 280% respectively.
The wider steering group includes Melanie Onn, former Labour MP for Great Grimsby and Deputy CEO of Renewables UK, Ruth Edwards, MP for Rushcliffe, and Henry de Zoete, a Non-Executive Director at the Cabinet Office.
The programme comes in response to the publication of the Sixth Carbon Budget and Energy White Paper and will run into COP26 in November 2021.