Green jobs can drive UK recovery from coronavirus


Green jobs should be placed at the heart of the UK’s recovery from Covid-19, according to a report published by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

On 19 October, it published a paper, Jobs for a Strong and Sustainable Recovery from Covid-19, where it explained that any economic recovery from the pandemic must see the government tackle other strategic challenges, including the pursuit of the 2050 net zero target. It identified six areas where net zero aligned investments can be made, creating jobs and advancing the fight against climate change. These areas are energy efficiency; natural capital projects; active travel equipment and infrastructure; renewable power generation, distribution and storage; electric vehicle production and charging infrastructure; and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), along with blue and green hydrogen production.

It found that net zero aligned investments in sectors such as clean automotive, hydrogen and CCUS, renewable energy and housing energy efficiency can result in tens of thousands of high wage jobs. Furthermore, a portfolio of net zero aligned investments could create jobs across the UK in the short run while, in the medium to longer term, there are several high value, complex net zero aligned products relatively close to the UK’s existing capabilities and can drive growth opportunities.

In the case of hydrogen and CCUS in particular, drivers of short run employment include construction and operation of scale pilot projects for hydrogen production, along with construction and operation of CCUS infrastructure in high emitting industrial clusters.

Over the medium to longer term, looking beyond the recovery to net zero and sustainable growth, the paper highlighted that opportunities to drive employment will include UK production of, and research and development related to steam reformer equipment, hydrogen electrolysis production equipment, hydrogen storage equipment, hydrogen transmission equipment, hydrogen-specific home heating equipment, hydrogen- specific industrial equipment, and carbon capture equipment.

It went on to make a series of recommendations for how government can proceed, calling on it to place net zero aligned investments at the heart of the UK’s recovery plan.

Government was also told to design recovery policies and investments seeking to create and sustain jobs, allowing for where in the UK jobs might be created in the short term and sustained in the longer run, based on comparative advantage in production and innovation; to ensure robust monitoring and evaluation for investments made in the recovery package, to expand the evidence base and inform future policy; and to complement net zero aligned investments with targeted reskilling for those displaced in the current crisis as well as those who will be displaced by ongoing technological change and the zero carbon transition. The investments should be accompanied with strengthened policies, institutions and regulation to direct private sector investment towards achieving societal goals such as net zero, the paper added. This could begin with a robust net zero aligned carbon price, a National Investment Bank and a relaunched, long-term Industrial Strategy with sustainability placed at its core.