Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

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\’

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going

A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism

Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase

Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields

Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton

Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi

A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain

Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank

Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded

West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens

Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age

Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics

Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.

Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook