By investing in a ‘green’ economy, the UK government can create 1.6 million jobs as well as meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon emissions and nature conservation.
This is according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank, which said an investment in a “jobs-led recovery”, with a particular focus on jobs in low carbon industries, would be the most effective route out of the coronavirus crisis.
Labour market post-Covid
Carsten Jung, a senior economist at the IPPR, said: “Even as the economy reopens, many furloughed workers might not be able to return to their old jobs. Concerted investment by the government, businesses and households can generate employment in new future-proof sectors.
“Now is the right time to invest in and drive a sustainable recovery. Borrowing costs are currently so low that even doubling the government’s debt would mean paying less to service it than at almost any time since 1950. And with many workers and businesses having spare capacity, shoring up demand now will also benefit the long-term health of the economy.”
Its Transforming the economy after Covid-19 report finds that unemployment could increase by more than 2.1 million to almost 10% if the government fails to take action to restart economic growth.
By investing in initiatives that support the lowering of carbon emissions and ‘clean’ technology, three-quarters of the jobs lost could be replaced.
- For example, it estimates that 560,000 jobs could be generated in organisations that improve the energy efficiency of homes, in roles that prepare home owners for the switch to low-carbon heating systems and in the construction of zero-carbon social housing.
- By investing in sustainable transport -such as rail, electric buses, cycling infrastructure and electric vehicle charging in towns and cities – the government could generate more than 230,000 jobs, while investment in tree planting and peatland restoration could create 46,000 jobs across the UK.
- To meet the growing need for health and social care, the report recommends the creation of 700,000 jobs.
The public are also supportive of the creation of more green jobs. A Savanta ComRes poll of 2,000 adults for the IPPR found 74% agree that actions to address climate change can help create jobs across the UK, while 67% say it can create jobs in their local community.
“These measures would not only create 1.6 million much-needed jobs, they’re popular with the public,” said IPPR associate director Luke Murphy.
“If the prime minister really wants to emulate Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ then the government must significantly increase investment beyond what has been promised so far.”