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UK could see an exodus of 660,000 jobs if net zero targets missed

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Covid-19 can't compromise the net zero goal

The UK is at risk of losing almost 660,000 jobs to other countries if the Government doesn’t accelerate its transition to net zero, according to the Trade Union Congress. 

The TUC says that both direct and supply chain jobs could be lost across the UK as companies look for countries that offer superior green infrastructure and greater support for the decarbonisation of industry. It estimates that across Great Britain, 259,700 jobs are at direct risk in manufacturing sectors, while 407,100 supply chain jobs are at secondary risk. 

The Government has promised that the post-Covid recovery will be led by a green revolution, but the TUC argues that the amount of money committed towards this revolution is insufficient. It noted that the UK was second last among G7 economies for its investment in green infrastructure and jobs. 

The TUC says that ‘the UK Treasury is barely investing £180 per person on green recovery and jobs over the next decade, while President Biden plans to allocate over £2,960 per person on green recovery, jobs and programmes like public transport, electric vehicles and energy efficiency retrofits’. 

It’s worth noting that Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill is currently tied up in Congress, however, with Democrat Joe Manchin coming out against the plan. He has said that he wouldn’t even support half the currently proposed budget and would be voting against the bill, much to the chagrin of fellow Democrats. 

However, there are other nations where the UK is falling behind, according to the TUC. Scaled by population, the UK’s green recovery investment is just a quarter (24%) of France and a fifth (21%) of Canada. 

What the UK needs to do to avoid the exodus

According to the TUC, the UK Government needs to action the recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce in full, and for an £85 billion green recovery package to create 1.24 million green jobs. Coincidentally, this is the same taskforce that the UK Government has previously said would help create more than two million jobs. 

In addition, the TUC has repeated its calls for a permanent short-time working scheme to help protect working people through periods of future industrial change. It says that this would make a crucial difference by acting as a bridge for workers in jobs and industries under threat from offshoring during the global transition to net zero.

The union body says such a scheme would give UK workers similar protection to workers in 23 OECD countries that already have this type of scheme, including Germany, Japan and many US states. And it would produce significant savings on redundancy, training and hiring costs, and enable firms to keep skilled staff on their books.

Lynn Collins, TUC Regional Secretary, commented, “The world is moving very clearly in one direction – away from carbon and toward net zero. The UK must keep up with the pace of change.

“There’s still time to protect vital jobs in manufacturing and its supply chains. But the clock is ticking.

“Unless the Westminster government urgently scales up investment in green tech and industry, we risk losing thousands of decent jobs to competitor nations.

“If we move quickly, we can still safeguard jobs. The Government should boost investment to at least the G7 average and commit to the Green Jobs Taskforce plans in full. Then today’s workers will know that their jobs are safe, and the future can be bright with decent jobs for their children too.”

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