UK aims for a million green collar workers

The number of people working in the environmental sector is expected to top one million within the next twenty years - more than double today's figure of 400,000.

British Minister for Europe Jim Murphy gave the environmental industries a pep talk as he and his French counterpart Jean-Pierre Jouyet hosted a meeting this week to look at how an sustainable future could go hand-in-hand with economic growth.

At Towards a Green Collar Europe: jobs and growth in a low-carbon economy The Ministers invited repsresentatives from business, the public sector and trade unions to consider how Europe can keep the global lead on environmental action while boosting employment and remaining competitive.

Jim Murphy said: “Countries that take early action in developing green technology will have a competitive advantage as this boom industry grows in the future.

“The [British] Government is committed to making sure the UK is ahead of the pack – in the future we want an economy offering a mix of good blue collar jobs, good white collar jobs and good green collar jobs.

“Our aim is to have over a million UK workers in environmental industries within the next two decades. ”

He said the economic case for an urgent shift to low carbon is compelling, citing the Stern Review which ‘found that climate change will be more devastating than both of the World Wars and the Great Depression’ and inaction was not an option.

Mr Murphy said he did not want to see the UK trailing behind its European partners.

“Renewable energy programs in Germany and Spain are just ten years old but have already created hundreds of thousands of jobs. Germany is known for car giants like BMW, Mercedes and VW – but by 2020 it will have more jobs in the field of environmental technologies than in its entire car industry.

“We need to match and exceed their efforts.

“The environment in general and climate change in particular demand effective international – and not just national – action, because pollution does not respect borders.

“As the world’s largest trading bloc and a unique example of countries working closely together, the EU is ideally placed to promote green jobs and growth.”

Sam Bond

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