OVER FIFTY THOUSAND British jobs could be created if the Government invested in an energy efficiency programme that would also help tackle climate change, according to a report released today.
The report coincides with research from nef (the new economics foundation) showing that new funding for greening the economy amounts to just 0.6% of the UK's total stimulus package. Gordon Brown recently claimed to the House of Commons liaison committee that around 10% of the UK package was directed towards ‘environmentally important technologies'.
While nef found new and additional spending on a green economy comes to just £120 million, bonuses paid to staff at RBS - which is now almost entirely publically owned - were around seven times greater. And the car industry is set to receive £2.3 billion - over 20 times as much as new government investment in a green new deal.
Today the TUC, the Federation of Master Builders, leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg and Greenpeace will lend their support to a separate report calling for real green investment in the form of an energy efficiency programme. The report shows that an annual £5 billion investment in domestic energy efficiency would create around 55,000 jobs directly. Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created indirectly. And every year it would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by about 1.6 million tonnes while also addressing fuel poverty.
Such a programme could be a central plank of a green new deal, but so far Brown's support for creating jobs by greening the economy has been so poorly funded that, according to the new nef research, the UK new spending would only delay the UK's climate change emissions by six and a half hours in three years time.
In January, Gordon Brown claimed that, relative to the size of the UK economy, his green spending would be bigger than Barack Obama's planned multi-billion-dollar plans. And earlier this month Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and the Prime Minister backed plans to lift the economy out of recession by investing in the environmental sector.
Commenting on the potential for slashing emissions and creating jobs by investing in energy efficiency, Nick Clegg said:
"As thousands of people lose their jobs every month and more businesses go under, there's a danger that green issues will slip off the agenda, but in fact protecting the environment offers us the best route to economic recovery.
"Action taken now to insulate schools, hospitals and homes would create thousands of jobs, protect the environment and help families struggling to pay their fuel bills.
"The extra money we borrow during the recession to stimulate the economy must be invested in projects that create jobs and build green infrastructure that will benefit us all in the future."
Andrew Simms of nef said: "We face a unique alignment of economic and environmental interests. Investing in rapid transition away from the UK's fossil fuel dependence could provide a parachute for a troubled economy.
"But, it feels like the government has cut the parachute strings and pushed green energy, efficiency and conservation from the plane."
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: "Brown's high-flying green rhetoric just isn't matched with real action. His support for green industries when times are tough is nothing short of negligible.
"The government should abandon the unfocussed cut in VAT, which is costing nearly £1billion every month, and divert the cash into an efficiency programme which delivers real value - providing jobs, improving housing, boosting the economy and tackling climate change."
Richard Diment, Director General of the Federation of Master Builders said:
"Upgrading Britain's homes to make them greener and more energy efficient needs to be an urgent priority for the Government. Targeted fiscal incentives such as a cut in VAT to 5 per cent for property refurbishment would create the required demand for energy efficient improvements to our homes.
"Such a move would help the building industry when thousands of jobs are being lost; help householders to cut their energy bills; and help achieve the Government's objective to cut carbon emission by 80 per cent by 2050. Time is running out for indecision; action is needed now if we are to create a greener, more sustainable future for the UK."
Philip Pearson, Senior policy officer at TUC said:
"We greatly welcome confirmation of the job creation potential of energy efficiency and fuel poverty strategies demonstrated by the Greenpeace report. The TUC believes this kind of initiative is essential to build green pathways out of the recession."
Greenpeace press office: 020 7865 8255.
The Energy Efficiency and Jobs report by Impetus Consulting will be launched at 10am at The Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster, London SW1A 2LW.
The report can be seen at: www.greenpeace.org.uk/efficiencyandjobs
The nef report is available at: www.greenpeace.org.uk/greennewdeal
Brown told the Commons liason committee on 12th February 2009:
"I admire what President Obama has announced for America and I think it is true that about ten per cent of this fiscal stimulus will go to environmentally important technologies and potentially jobs in the green industries. I think you will find that the percentage of our expenditure is as high, that we are investing a great deal in environmental technologies and in insulation, everything from what we can do for individual houses and businesses to what we can do for cars and new technologies in relation to vehicles and other things."