Prioritising environmental enhancement, particularly in towns and cities struggling most with unemployment, could create thousands of jobs, research suggests.
By improving woodland, peatland and urban parks, the government could create 16,050 new jobs across the 20% of British constituencies experiencing the most severe employment challenges, according to the Green Alliance think-tank.
Areas with the greatest labour market challenges contain much of the land identified as having the most potential for habitat restoration, it claims.
Two-thirds of the most suitable land for planting trees is in constituencies with worse than average labour market challenges, while coastal areas with seagrass habitats have a significant proportion of people on furlough and a lower expected increase in employment rate.
Green Alliance’s Jobs for a Green Recovery report states that investment in nature restoration will create entry-level jobs with transferable skills and the potential for roles that require long term development of high level academic qualifications or professional accreditation.
It says: “The evidence is clear that green jobs should be at the heart of government’s levelling up programme.
“Those towns and smaller cities struggling most with unemployment before the pandemic will have the highest labour market risk as the economy opens up again. But our analysis shows these areas have the highest potential for environmental improvements and, therefore, the greatest opportunity for green jobs growth.”
It calls on the government to go beyond its recent announcements around “levelling up” by delivering more green jobs. It says the government should:
- Widen the scope of “levelling up” funding to include the environment. The Levelling Up Fund has 60 times the funding of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, but does not include environmental projects within its scope.
- Equip the UK Infrastructure Bank to deliver green jobs. It is currently required to drive “net zero” investment, but there is no timeline to do this.
- Publish a long-term environmental investment plan setting out the role it sees for public and private finance in driving green job creation.
- Support local authorities in green skills development.
- Ensure the Treasury has nature and climate at the heart of its decision-making.
Last year, Boris Johnson annnounced a 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” that would create 250,000 jobs.
The Green Alliance report says: “Environmental improvements could also help to level up local economies in other ways, raising productivity through improved physical and mental wellbeing. Almost half a million people live in neighbourhoods across the country with no trees or green spaces.
“The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, with low paid, insecure work hit the hardest. Well paid, secure green jobs will improve people’s financial prospects and the places they live and work.”