The Cameron, May and Johnson governments have overseen the loss of over 75,000 jobs in the green economy since 2014, Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer has claimed, citing official figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Starmer said the official source identifies a total of 33,800 direct roles all vanished from the low carbon sector and renewables, plus another 41,400 jobs gone from related supply chains, in the five years to 2019.
“A decade of broken promises on green jobs,” is how the Labour leader categorised recent Conservative policy in the sector.
The ONS includes in those figures jobs in wind, solar, hydropower, carbon capture and storage, nuclear, renewable heat, bioenergy and alternative fuels, energy-efficiency measures, green finance, electric vehicles, and fuel cells.
Starmer was on a two-day visit to Scotland. There green energy now supports 22,600 jobs, according to the ONS. But even north of the Border, green employment was ‘going backwards’, Labour asserts.
Holyrood’s SNP government “broke its pledge to create 130,000 green jobs by 2020”, the opposition leader maintained. Again citing ONS figures, he said Scotland now has 21,400 direct green jobs, against 23,200 in 2014.
Ministers counter that their ‘build back greener’ initiatives are set to boost low carbon employment. In November, the prime minister claimed his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution would create up to 250,000 jobs.
Installing 600,000 heat pumps per year will create 50,000 jobs by 2030, say ministers. The country’s offshore wind sector is expected to be able to support up to 60,000 jobs.
But Labour maintains only £4bn of the £12bn earmarked for the Conservative plan is new money. Instead the party has renewed its call for £30bn in planned investment to be brought forward, nurturing up to 400,000 jobs in manufacturing and low-carbon industries.
A Beis spokesperson said, “This government is firmly committed to seizing the economic opportunities presented by the transition to a green economy. The data from 2019 and 2014 cannot be compared as there was a change in how the survey was conducted. In fact, ONS has concluded that the low-carbon and renewable energy economy has remained stable.
“We have welcomed the recommendations put forward by the Green Jobs Taskforce, which are a big step forward in delivering the skilled workers and green jobs essential for the UK’s transition to net zero.
“This will now be considered by the government, starting with the development of our Net-Zero Strategy, due to be published ahead of the UN’s climate summit COP26 in Glasgow this November.”