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Call for evidence

Submission of written evidence

The Environmental Audit Committee is launching an inquiry into Green Jobs. The inquiry will look at how green jobs can help tackle the expected rise in unemployment due to COVID-19 in a sustainable way. It will also look at the jobs, skills and training needed to achieve the UK’s longer-term climate and environmental ambitions and what planning and work is taking place to meet these requirements.

What are Green Jobs?

Green jobs, as defined by the International Labour Organization, are ‘decent jobs in any economic sector (e.g. agriculture, industry, services, administration) which contribute to preserving, restoring and enhancing environmental quality’. The ILO state that Green jobs reduce the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors by:

    • Improving the efficiency of energy, raw materials and water

    • De-carbonising the economy and bringing down greenhouse gas emissions

    • Minimising or avoiding all forms of waste and pollution

    • Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity

    • Supporting adaptation to the effects of climate change

The committee’s inquiry will draw on but not be limited by this definition.

The numbers

There are around 34.2 million economically active people in the UK, which includes people in employment (32.5 million) or looking for employment (1.7 million) as at September 2020. This is set to change as a result of COVID-19. In July, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published three scenarios for the number of potential unemployed people in 2021. This ranged from 1.9 million in its upside scenario to 4 million in its downside scenario.

The Committee on Climate Change warn that short-term choices aimed at tackling unemployment and inequality caused by COVID-19, if poorly targeted, could lock in higher emissions in the long-term . Conversely, creating green jobs could support a reduction in the likely levels of unemployment and create a significant economic multiplier effect.

In 2018, the latest figures available, there were 224,800 full-time equivalent jobs in low carbon and renewable energy , the majority of which were in energy efficient products (51%).

What is needed?

More investment will be needed by both the public and private sector to create the conditions for the jobs required to meet the UK’s environmental and climate emission targets, including Net Zero by 2050 and the ambitions of the 25-year environment plan. For example, the Local Government Association identified nearly 700,000 jobs needed in England by 2030 for climate change mitigation, including in low-carbon electricity generation (23%), low-carbon heating (23%), and energy efficiency products (21%). This could rise to over 1.18 million by 2050 .

For circular economy activity WRAP showed a need for 517,000 jobs in the UK by 2030 if there was to be a true transformation to a closed loop economy for materials. Green jobs will be needed in other areas, for example in restoring nature, protecting biodiversity, providing clean air and water and adapting to climate change – such as the building of flood defences.

Government Ambitions

The inquiry will look at Government plans to create the conditions for job creation in green and sustainable industries to meet this demand. In February 2020, BEIS Minister Kwasi Kwarteng stated that “we hope to create two million green jobs across the UK by 2030”. In July, the Treasury’s “Plan for Jobs” was published which included the Green Jobs Challenge Fund of £40 million for environmental charities and public authorities to create and protect 5,000 jobs in England focused on improving the natural environment. Also included was the Green Homes Grant which Treasury stated could support 100,000 green jobs. In October 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to invest in wind energy that would create “60,000 new jobs”. This commitment to 2 million new green jobs was re-affirmed on the 12th of November 2020 with the announcement of a new Green Jobs Taskforce to be chaired by Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan. The taskforce will focus on “the immediate and longer-term challenges of delivering skilled workers for the UK’s transition to Net Zero” and will include representative of businesses, employees and skills sector.

In their 2020 progress report to parliament the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is clear that to meet the UK’s net zero targets, the Government will need to integrate relevant skills into the UK's education framework and create a strategy for the development and roll-out of plans for training and skills in low carbon areas.

Regional importance

Green job creation can also be important to areas where a transition to a low carbon economy could cause significant job losses. For example, IPPR estimates that there could be 28,000 job losses in coal, oil and gas in the north of England by 2030. This could be higher in Scotland where 75% of oil and gas extraction jobs are located. When considering other carbon emitting sectors, the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, the Humber and Wales have the greatest proportion of jobs which are likely to be exposed to the transition. A ‘just transition’ that “maximises the benefits of climate action while minimising hardships for workers and their communities” , is a key plank of international climate change agreements. For example, Policy Exchange estimate that the transition to net zero could create a net increase of 40,000 North Sea jobs if offshore wind and other local carbon technologies are fully and correctly developed and barriers (such as congested UK seas) are overcome.

The Committee is inviting written submissions on:

1. What estimates are there for the jobs required to meet the pathway to net zero emissions, by sector, and other environmental and biodiversity commitments?

2. Does the UK workforce have the skills and capacity needed to deliver the green jobs required to meet our net zero target and other environmental ambitions (including in the 25-year environment plan)?

3. What needs to be done to ensure that these skills and capacity are developed in time to meet our environmental targets?

4. What measures should the Government take to ensure that its proposals to meet environmental targets do not by default lead to jobs in affected industries being exported?

5. What risks are there to meeting the Government’s ambitions for green job creation in both the public and private sectors? What should the Government do to create the conditions to ensure its commitments are met by both sectors?

6. Are the Government’s ambitions for green job creation in the public and private sectors sufficient for the scale of the challenges? What changes should be made?

7. How can the UK ensure jobs are created in areas most impacted by the transition to a low-carbon economy?

8. What additional interventions should be undertaken to aid in a ‘just transition’?

9. What impact can green jobs have on the wider UK economy?

10. What contribution can green jobs make to the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19?

11. How can the UK ensure high emissions are not locked-in when tackling unemployment?

 

Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by 15 January. Respondents need not answer all the questions and evidence need not be limited to these questions. Submissions should be not more than 3,000 words but shorter submissions are welcomed and encouraged

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons (https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/witnessguide.pdf) which outlines word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

References

[1] International Labour Organization, What is a green job?, April 2016

[2] International Labour Organization, Frequently Asked Questions on green jobs, [Accessed 12.11.20]

[3] Figures are rounded from Office for National Statistics, Labour Force Survey Summary, 10 Nov 2020 [Accessed 10.11.20]

[4] Office for Budget Responsibility, Fiscal Sustainability Report, July 2020, p.8

[5] Committee on Climate Change, Reducing UK emissions: Progress report to Parliament, June 2020, p.16

[6] Environmental Audit Committee, Environmental implications of COVID-19 hearing, Q26, 21 May 2020

[7] This figure does not include supply chains.

[8] Office for National Statistics, Low carbon and renewable energy economy, UK: 2018, 16 Jan 2020

[9] Local Government Association, Local green jobs – accelerating a sustainable economic recovery, June 2020, p. 24

[10] Kwasi Kwarteng, Oral Answers to Question, BEIS, 21 Jan 2020, [900282]

[11] HM Treasury, Policy paper: A Plan for Jobs 2020, 8 July 2020

[12]10 Downing Street, New plans to make UK world leader in green energy, 6 October 2020

[13] BEIS, Press release, UK Government launches taskforce to support drive for 2 million green jobs by 2030, 12 November 2020  [Accessed 12.11.20]

[14] CCC, Reducing UK emissions: Progress report to Parliament, June 2020

[15] IPPR, A Just Transition, March 2019

[16] CCC, Net Zero The UK's contribution to stopping global warming, May 2019, pg. 253 

[17] ITUC, Climate Justice: There are no jobs on a dead planet, March 2015, p. 16

[18] United Nationals Framework Convention on Climate Change, Just Transition of the Workforce, and the Creation of Decent Work and Quality Jobs,

[19] COP24, Just Transition Declaration, 2018

[20] Policy Exchange, The Future of the North Sea, November 2020

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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