Green industries include energy efficiency, electric vehicles and renewable energy – sectors which will be key to the UK reaching its climate targets as well as taking on workers who can adapt their skills from other more carbon-heavy industries.
There were 235,900 green jobs in 2014, Office for National Statistics data showed, but only 202,100 shortly before Covid-19 gripped the UK, meaning the figures do not take into account jobs lost during the pandemic.
Most of the jobs were lost from carbon capture and storage, a new technology which captures carbon dioxide from power generation and industrial processes then stores it underground to prevent it entering the atmosphere.
The Prime Minister made carbon capture – which lost two-thirds of its roles over five years – a key element of his 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution” announced in November last year. It included a 2030 target to deliver up to 250,000 green jobs across the UK.
The Westminster Government is “committed to taking advantage of the huge economic opportunities that the transition to a green economy offers,” a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said, “including large scale job creation”.
There should be a ‘good news’ story to tell
Major job losses were also recorded across onshore wind, solar and tidal power generation.
“Climate action can bring major benefits to us all,” O’Grady said. “New jobs in green industries can help us recover from the pandemic. And it will mean clean air, food security and the restoration of Britain’s forests and wildlife.
“There should be a ‘good news’ story to tell. Our research has shown how over a million green jobs can be created in the next two years if the government fast-tracks green investment.”
The body’s research showed that increased and fast-tracked investment in green sectors could create 38,000 new jobs in decarbonising manufacturing plants, 120,000 jobs in expanding and upgrading railways and 59,000 jobs in electric vehicle infrastructure.
“We all know now this is the future we need,” O’Grady said. “The Government must come forward with ambitious plans to show strong leadership when the UK chairs the COP26 global conference on climate change this year.”
Cash previously ringfenced for the Green Homes Grant will now be put into a separate fund for local authorities to insulate homes occupied by people on low incomes.
More people found jobs in offshore work between 2014 and 2019, increasing by 14 per cent to 7,200 roles in total. But this was not proportional to the growth in the country’s capacity to generate power from offshore wind projects, the TUC warned, which more than doubled over the same time period.