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‘The inaction is a political failure’: Public backs transition to green jobs

Think tank Class says the public’s attitudes towards climate change are more progressive than the government’s.

An overwhelming majority of the public want the government to help fossil fuel workers into secure green jobs, a new survey has found.

The survey, run by Neon and Opinium in collaboration with the Centre of Labour and Social Studies (Class) found that 71 per cent of respondents supported the government taking responsibility for fossil fuel workers’ transition to green jobs on the path to net zero. 

Class director Ellie Mae O’Hagan said the results show the public “want decisive action to tackle climate change”.

Speaking to the Big Issue, O’Hagan pointed out that the survey results put the public further ahead than the government in attitudes towards a just transition. 

“Addressing climate change is not about whether the public want it or not, it’s actually about whether politicians want to do it or not.In that respect, the inaction so far is a political failure,” she said. 

Currently, there is little in the way of support for oil and gas workers who wish to transition into the renewable energy sector. 

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A lack of practical support and the high costs associated with retraining in renewables is preventing many workers from making the transition, with many forced to stay in increasingly unstable, polluting jobs.

The Class survey wished to collect public opinion on the issue of a just transition, asking 2,000 adults whether they would support “the government taking responsibility for ensuring fossil fuel workers can be transitioned into secure green jobs”. 

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Seven in 10 said they would support this policy.

Failing to support oil and gas workers in the transition to a greener economy risks repeating mistakes made in the 1980s, O’Hagan added.

“We all saw what happened to the mining communities in this country in the 1980s,” she continued.

“When there’s a huge change in society and it affects the way we all work to the extent that some industries don’t exist anymore, unless that’s done in a properly managed way the results are mass unemployment and the total loss of community.”

She called on the public to “make their voices heard” on the just transition, saying “politicians won’t act unless we make them act”.

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