Green Jobs: No turning back
The UK’s green economy grew by 4.8% last year, with total sales of £128.1bn, generating a £5bn trade surplus, according to the latest BIS study. But jobs growth has stalled at just under one million (939,254) employees across the low carbon goods and services sector. We’ll debate this whole issue in Green Jobs: No Turning back, the TUC’s climate change conference on 21 october. But the Green Alliance warns that the UK’s “wavering commitment” to low carbon is deterring investors. One in five green economy workers manufacture. Yet we imported £736m of wind turbines and wind systems, £387m of alternative fuel vehicles and £689m of photovoltaics last year, sectors where the UK has potential to develop a green manufacturing base.
Green economy jobs in manufacturing and services, 2011-12
Manufacturing activities account for 20% of the one million strong workforce, or some 190,000 jobs, with industrial activities strongest in sectors like wind, wave, tidal, PV, geothermal, biomass and air pollution control equipment.
BIS defines the green economy as the “low carbon environmental goods and services sector.” It comprises three main areas of activity – renewable energy, environmental activities like water and air pollution control, and low carbon, which ranges from carbon capture and nuclear power to carbon finance.
As employment growth has stalled, so the number of companies has fallen slightly, down by 400 employers to 51, 292 in 2010/11.
The low carbon economy goods and services once again generated a healthy £5.2bn trade surplus in 2011-12. Exports increased by 3.7% to £12.2bn, set against imports of £7bn, which increased by 2.8%.
Government policies to tackle climate change are “inadequate and inconsistent, European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change. Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the group, says: “Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that human activity is warming the planet with increasingly serious economic consequences, policymakers have failed to act with the level of urgency and clarity the problem requires.” The group is part of a global coalition of pension funds, insurance companies and other financial institutions calling on the UK to play a major role in leading the green policy debate in Europe.
Ms Pfeifer cited recent research which showed that in the UK, the offshore wind industry alone could miss out on 15,000 new jobs over the next seven years as a result of “weak and unclear signals” on renewable energy policy.