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What Could a Green New Deal Mean for Jobs?

Industry News, Renewable Energy
Posted on: 23/05/2019
Building new wind farms for a renewable future

The Committee on Climate Change issued its advice to government earlier this month, setting ambitious, but achievable, new targets to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The CCC’s report, alongside the IPCC’s special report in 2018, is forcing politicians to reconsider the Green New Deal – an economic policy first set out in the UK in 2008 in response to the financial crisis, and brought back into the mainstream by American Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the support of grassroots movements this year. The Green New Deal is often discussed in relation to jobs and the economy, but what is it and what impact will it have in the UK? 

What is the Green New Deal? 

The Green New Deal proposes the decarbonisation of the economy, huge investment in the infrastructure needed to tackle the climate crisis and to create a new generation of jobs. 

It’s a bold vision for a new economy, that puts sustainability and equality at its centre; creating secure, skilled, well paid jobs, building affordable homes, reducing the wealth gap, improving societal stands and building technology and infrastructure for a net-zero future. 

There are several variants of the plan, with proposals in the US, UK and Europe all gaining traction. The Green New Deals are partly inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s, a series of economic reforms, regulations and mass investment that helped the American economy following the Great Depression. 

The Green New Deal aims to transform the economy to be capable to effectively and urgently tackle the climate crisis, and in the process tackle the mounting inequality around the world that has seen the wealth gap grow and the majority of emissions caused by the richest whilst the poorest suffer the most from the effects of climate change. 

What Kind of Jobs Would Be Created by a Green New Deal in the UK? 

Tens of thousands more jobs in the building of renewable energy infrastructure would be created by a Green New Deal, this is already a booming sector in the UK and under the new plans would increase exponentially. Offshore wind has been the largest employer in the sector thus far, but the return of onshore wind and a new plan for domestic solar panels would further boost the number of jobs. A recent Labour policy to fit solar panels to 1.75m social housing and low-income homes is estimated to create nearly 17,000 jobs

The decommissioning of oil, gas, coal and high carbon industries will require thousands of skilled workers, and the plans aim to create sustainable jobs that can evolve and transition with the changing industry so that those employed by fossil fuels companies can continue their careers. 

Millions of homes are needed to be built in the UK over the next 20 years, these homes need to be affordable to both buy and live in. Building low carbon, sustainable homes that are well insulated and cheap to run requires new technologies and smart thinking from invested companies. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be creating by building homes, as well as the crucial task of updating existing properties to make them more energy efficient. Just as the smart meter roll out saw a spike in the number of positions in the energy industry, so too will fitting insulation, efficient boiler and heating systems and utilities to homes and businesses across the country. 

Carbon capture and storage is also set to be a major factor in the transition to a net-zero economy. There are a number of methods, including reforestation and working with landowners and farmers to increase biodiversity, as well as more technological projects to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Acorn project in Scotland is one such example, capturing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 and piping to storage sites under the North Sea to depleted gas fields using existing pipelines.  

How Likely is a Green New Deal? 

In March this year Labour MP Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tabled a bill in parliament to enact a Green New Deal, and on the 1st May an Environment and Climate Emergency was declared in parliament following the protests and strikes by students and activist group Extinction Rebellion. The declaration of a Climate Emergency puts the issue at the forefront of upcoming policy and it’s highly likely to be a key policy topic in any upcoming General Election or Conservative leadership contest, following Brexit. 

While there are immense changes coming for the energy industry in the near future, the need for skilled and experienced engineers will be certain. If you are looking for a position in the industry, get in touch with our team of consultants or browse our jobs listings. Give our office a call on +44 (0) 1502 564892 or email us cvs@peoplewithenergy.co.uk

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