Report: UK lagging behind other G7 nations on green finance and jobs

69% of municipalities are concerned by a lack of environmental and climate experts working on development plans

That is according to a damning new report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) today (1 June).

Published ahead of the G7 Summit, which begins in Cornwall on Friday 11 June, the report assesses how much “green” Covid-19 stimulus has been offered by each of the G7 governments. Activities classed as “green” include renewable energy generation and related infrastructure, energy efficiency, electric cars, nature conservation and restoration, public transport and active travel. Funding is assessed on both a total level and a per-person basis.

On a total funding level, the UK comes bottom of the seven, with £12.13bn pledged. The TUC has accounted for the £12bn Ten Point Plan and for a handful of other schemes, including the now-closed Green Homes Grant and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. The top three nations in terms of total funding are the US (£971.75bn), Italy (£83.87bn) and Germany (£49.39bn).

The UK is second-last in the funding per-person table, with only Japan faring worse. While the UK Treasury is investing £180 per person, the USA is planning to allocate over £2,960 per person and Italy has earmarked more than £1,380 per person.

According to the TUC, the UK could scale up its pipeline of quality green jobs tenfold if it chooses to scale investment to match the better half of the G7 table. The trade body forecasts that current plans will lead to the creation of 44,000 new jobs by 2030 but that this figure could surpass 338,000 if investment is scaled to match Canadian proportions, or 712,000 if investment is matched with US proportions.

These figures cover roles that would “last the decade”; temporary roles associated with construction phases or trials are not counted. When such roles are added, the potential rises to 1.24 million jobs. The TUC points to particular opportunities in the fields of low-carbon steel, hydrogen, electric vehicles (EVs) and tidal power.

The Conservative Government’s headline commitment on green jobs is to host two million roles by 2030. Organisations including the TUC, the Aldersgate Group and IEMA have warned that it is currently far off-track to delivering this vision.

“Good green jobs should be at the heart of our economic recovery from the pandemic, but the Prime Minister’s plans are nowhere near ambitious enough,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.

“The government should look to the rest of the G7 and put more money into green jobs and infrastructure. It’s a chance to replace the jobs lost in the pandemic and level up the UK.

“Every area needs good green jobs, close to home. We can revitalise towns and communities that have lost traditional industries and make better jobs available to the millions in insecure jobs on poverty pay.”

The current state of play

The Government recently launched a Green Jobs Taskforce – a coalition of businesses, education providers and NGOs.

The body’s job is to help unemployed people and those in transitioning industries into new, skilled jobs, while developing a roadmap to scale up this work in the long-term. The Taskforce does not have any legal powers, however, to hold departments to account.

Pre-pandemic, Government figures revealed that turnover in the UK’s green economy accounted for just 1% of national non-financial turnover. Similar investigations into official jobs figures found that while domestic jobs in the renewable energy sector rose year-on-year in 2018 and 2019, they were ultimately down on 2014 levels.

The publication of the Hydrogen Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy, both due imminently, may well scale funding for some of the focus points of the Ten Point Plan, providing investors and businesses with the certainty needed to scale supply chains and skills pipelines. The Transport Strategy is also due this Parliamentary session.

Sarah George

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