Decarbonising the UK’s 12 most emissions-heavy industries could create 1.7million new jobs by 2030, says report
- Scotland, the North and the Midlands would see around half of all jobs created
- The report found ‘Red Wall’ seats have a high proportion of carbon-intensive jobs
- Up to 1.3m new roles could come in energy efficiency and low-carbon heating
Decarbonising the UK’s most carbon-heavy industries, including aviation and construction, could create 1.7 million new jobs by 2030 and ensure the UK achieves its net zero target, new research has claimed.
The ‘Greening the Giants’ report says that a slim majority of all new jobs in decarbonisation would be created in the north of England, Scotland and the Midlands, areas which are most at risk of jobs losses from the net zero transition.
About 900,000 to 1.3 million new roles could be produced in energy efficiency and low-carbon heating, while the electric vehicles sector could add another 367,000 jobs and low-carbon power could another 36,000 jobs.
The ‘Greening the Giants’ report says the electric vehicles sector could add another 367,000 jobs by 2030 if the UK government successfully delivers on its net zero target
The report, published by the Conservative Party-linked group Onward, warned that if the Government does not take ‘radical action’ to decarbonise the UK’s 12 most carbon-intensive industries, it will not reach its net zero target by 2050.
These 12 ‘carbon giants’, including agriculture, steel, manufacturing, and power generation, are responsible for 62 per cent of all UK carbon emissions, the worst offender being Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply.
Among the 25 recommendations made in the analysis include the set-up of a Net Zero Delivery Taskforce – modelled on the Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce – that is dedicated to funding trials of net zero technologies in the research and development stage.
It also advises introducing an industrial Contracts for Difference regime of the kind that exists for the offshore wind and solar sector and has helped the cost of those technologies to plummet since 2013.
Additionally, all publicly-funded construction projects – except those related to defence – should be required to be zero-carbon, and shipping firms have a certain proportion of their fuels from zero-carbon.
While it notes that carbon-intensive industries are widely geographically distributed, constituencies that voted to leave the EU, are held by the Scottish National Party (SNP), and so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats have a higher than average exposure to such sectors.
Carbon-intensive industries like the oil and gas industry are heavily concentrated in areas held by SNP constituencies
Only three sectors are predominantly located in Remain-supporting areas, including shipping and aviation, the latter of whom has emitted 125 per cent more carbon emissions since 1990 and lacks the technologies needed to decarbonise.
The report’s authors admit decarbonisation could be politically challenging in places like Scotland, as the country’s oil and gas industry is heavily concentrated in SNP areas, and the Conservative government wishes Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom.
Many of the areas that will experience the most disruption from decarbonisation are also located in more economically depressed areas, such as the Red Wall seats which has a high concentration of coal and lignite mining jobs.
But it insisted that ‘there is no inevitable conflict between levelling up and net zero. With the right policies, the latter can drive the former and the transition can be, if not entirely painless, regionally progressive and economically productive.’
Shipping firms should hold a certain proportion of fuels from zero-carbon sources, says the report
For example, about four-fifths of the reduction in industrial emissions that could come from hydrogen technologies at major sites will likely occur in the Midlands, North and Scotland.
Co-author Ted Christie-Miller wrote: ‘The UK has successfully halved its emissions since 1990, but that means the low-hanging fruit have already been picked.
‘The next phase will require the wholesale transformation of industries that are integral to our economy and vital for regional jobs. It is essential the Government helps these industries to make the transition, while helping new net zero industries to flourish.
‘We need to green the giants of industry through smart regulation and bold industrial strategy, using the energy around COP26 and the recovery from the pandemic to drive a net zero agenda over the next decade that is as ambitious as the pandemic response has been over the past year.’