The promised “green jobs” boost might never happen if the UK fails to meet its carbon reduction targets, the TUC has warned.
The union body claims that up to 660,000 jobs could be at risk if the government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 is not met. It claims these roles could be moved offshore to countries that have better green infrastructure.
Its analysis claims that almost 80,000 jobs could be lost in rubber and plastics, 30,000 jobs in iron and steel, 41,000 in glass and ceramics, 63,200 in chemicals, 18,000 in textiles and 15,500 in paper, pulp and printing.
In steel, for example, countries such as Sweden are launching new technologies that can produce steel without having to burn coal at high temperatures.
The CBI has also claimed that the “window of opportunity is… shrinking by the day” to make the most of job opportunities in electric vehicles and energy efficiency. The business group has previously estimated that around 240,000 jobs could be created in these areas by 2030.
The TUC wants the government to step up investment in green technology and industry to safeguard these jobs.
General-secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Thatcher devastated Britain’s industrial heartlands with the loss of industry and jobs. Boris Johnson is on the brink of doing more of the same.”
The government is likely to clarify its strategy to reduce carbon emissions and how this will impact industry at the COP26 summit in Glasgow at the end of October.
Last November, the prime minister announced a “green industrial revolution” with a £4 billion investment to upskill and reskill workers for roles in areas such as nuclear power, energy efficiency and wind power.
This includes a £500 million investment in scaling up production of electric vehicle batteries in the Midlands, the North East and North Wales.
In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the TUC’s claims were untrue.
“In recent months we’ve secured record investment in wind power, published a world-leading Hydrogen Strategy, pledged £1bn in funding to support the development of carbon capture and launched a landmark North Sea Transition Deal – the first G7 nation to do so – that will protect our environment, generate huge investment and create and support thousands of jobs,” they said.
The TUC’s research from June shows the UK ranks second from bottom in the G7 economies in terms of its investment in green infrastructure and jobs.