In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of recovery and stimulus packages, UKERC has initiated a systematic review of the evidence on ‘green jobs’. This response provides a summary of initial insights and draws on preliminary findings.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of recovery and stimulus packages, UKERC has initiated a significant new systematic review of the evidence on ‘green jobs’. This research is still underway but we have completed a preliminary scoping review.

In what follows, we provide a summary of some initial insights and a list of studies.

In this submission, we address five of the inquiry questions (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q9, and Q10) where evidence and analysis provide us with relevant insights. We draw upon UKERC research and output and wider literature in order to provide evidence-based answers to this subset of the Committee’s questions.

Key points include:

There is a need for meta-analysis of published estimates of jobs required to meet net zero in the UK, and greater transparency in their explanation. These job creation estimates are difficult to compare due to considerable variation in definitions, metrics, methodologies, sectoral focus and timescales.

The longer-term macroeconomic consequences of supporting labour intensive options need to be considered. A focus on numbers of jobs created in low carbon sectors may be desirable in the short term in the context of high unemployment and seeking to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A strong economic case can be made to boost investment in all those areas where we know we will need to build infrastructure and capacity in order to meet decarbonisation objectives. This is particularly true where there are co-benefits such as improved air-quality, more comfortable homes, resilient energy supplies, or reduced congestion. Irrespective of the immediate employment impacts it makes sense to invest in electricity system infrastructure to enable electrification in heat and transport, expanding renewable energy and other low carbon power sources, as well as ambitious energy efficiency improvements.

Energy efficiency and heat system retrofit in buildings offers an immediate ‘triple-win’ in terms of economic stimulus, societal benefits and environmental goals. Multiple studies highlight the potential for job creation in household retrofitting in relation to energy efficiency and low carbon heat.

The UK workforce does not currently have the skills and capacity to deliver energy retrofitting at the scale and standard needed to alleviate fuel poverty and meet climate targets. Investing in skills for retrofitting buildings will stimulate economic activity, increase jobs, and create distributed work in regions most affected by unemployment. Delivering these new skills will require a rapid shift in the UK’s provision of vocational qualifications, and the creation of high quality apprenticeships and training programmes.

Clear long-term targets and programmes that run over a longer time frame are crucial to support the development of skills and capacity. Legislating building standards through both medium- and long-term targets will provide certainty to suppliers that there will be market growth in building energy retrofitting and thus encourage their participation.

Judicious management of the energy transition could maximise the economic and ecological co-benefits of energy system decarbonisation, alleviating pressures on natural resources, and providing long-term societal and economic resilience. Achieving net zero and ensuring a green recovery post Covid-19 will require wide-ranging institutional, societal, and environmental changes and a holistic approach will be necessary to ensure that the jobs and other benefits of a low-carbon energy transition are not outweighed by negatives.