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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\’
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns