Green jobs to beat recession

Jean Lambert says what the UK now needs is new green jobs and training for a new green economy

January 21, 2009
3 min read

The economy is in turmoil and we are fast reaching the point of no return for catastrophic climate change. There is an opportunity to tackle both of these challenges, by making the necessary shift to a low carbon economy. Yet while efforts are being made to stabilise the economic crisis, the climate package is under threat. Rather than creating another bubble, the Government must invest in a sustainable, low-carbon future for enduring industries and employment.

Green industries have great potential in the UK, but currently, their development is a long way behind the market leaders. Take wind energy for instance. The UK is the windiest country in the European Union with around 40 per cent of the EU’s total wind capacity, yet we produce little more than 4 per cent of the EU’s wind energy. This massive under-utilisation of our renewable resources is reflected in the number of green jobs. According to government-sponsored research, the UK has, at best, 26,000 jobs in renewable energy, whereas Germany has 250,000.

Regrettably, there has been an historic lack of investment and incentives for people to study the subjects required by industry, for example engineering, and this has left our present workforce unprepared. Government research shows that 43,000 new jobs could be created in the wind energy industry, but without the skills and infrastructure to manufacture in the UK, these projections shrink to less than 7,000 jobs.

The EU is pushing the UK to expand its renewable energy capacity, partly as a result of legislation influenced by Green MEPs, and this could create the impetus to kick start the right training programmes. To meet EU targets, the UK must produce 15 per cent of its total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and while this has been described as ‘very challenging’ by the government it should be noted that Romania’s target is 24 per cent and Sweden’s is 49 per cent. In fact, most EU member states have higher 2020 renewable energy targets than the UK.

Simply put, progress on the green agenda is being delayed by government timidity and lack of forward thinking. There are other challenges that need to be addressed, for instance in the planning system and the electricity grid itself, but given the right support the wind industry alone could be worth tens of billions of pounds and employ tens of thousands of people.

We currently have a serious green skills deficit. The Government needs to address climate change across sectors and ensure that our workforce has the knowledge to improve performance in their own sector as well as expand new green industries.’

As the green work agenda becomes increasingly relevant, success on green issues will translate into success in terms of sustainable jobs, skills and investment in industry and manufacturing.

Jean Lambert is the Green Party MEP for London and author of the new report \’Green Work – the climate change challenge\’


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.