offshore windfarm

More than 75,000 green jobs lost in past five years, Labour says

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, said the UK must lead by example on the climate crisis through a 'Green New Deal', investing in renewable energy and other green technologies. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) cited by Labour showed that more than 75,000 green jobs have been lost between 2014 and 2019.

The Labour leader called for “rapid green investment” during his two-day tour of Scotland.

“Tackling the climate crisis must be at the heart of everything we do. We are at a critical moment. In less than 100 days, COP26 will be over and our chance to keep the planet’s warming below 1.5°C will have either been grasped or abandoned,” said Starmer. “The UK must rise to this moment and lead by example. That means rapid action to create good, green jobs across the country. And it means a proper strategy to buy, make, and sell more in Britain, to create good, unionised jobs in clean energy and through supply chains.

“Nobody here in the UK can afford for this issue to be yet another example of Boris Johnson bluster. We need real action, now. It is time for a Green New Deal.”

Figures from the ONS show that more than 75,000 (full-time equivalent) jobs have been lost in low-carbon and renewable sectors between 2014 and 2019: 33,800 direct jobs and 41,400 in their supply chains. The figures cover sectors including 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 also attacked the Scottish government for its record on green jobs, stating that the Scottish National Party “broke its pledge to create 130,000 green jobs by 2020”; in 2010, the devolved government predicted that jobs in the low-carbon sector would reach 130,000 by 2020 according to a now-archived official web page. However, ONS figures show 21,400 direct green jobs in Scotland, compared to 23,200 in 2014.

The Labour Party has criticised the government’s flagship '10-point plan for a green industrial revolution', which covers investment in areas including hydrogen heating, nuclear power, offshore wind, and electric vehicles. The Labour Party said that just £4bn of the £12bn mobilised for the plan was new, with Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband warning at the time that the funding does not “remotely” meet the scale of what is needed to tackle climate change and unemployment.

Labour has called once again for £30bn in planned investment to be brought forward to support up to 400,000 jobs in manufacturing and low-carbon industries.

A spokesperson for the department for business, energy, and industrial strategy 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.”

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