Briefing: jobs and the green recovery

This briefing outlines how the government can create 1.8 million green jobs and rebuild the UK's economy, as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.



The coronavirus pandemic has shocked the world, exposing vulnerabilities and inequalities both in terms of health and economic outcomes.

In the UK, the essential action taken to reduce the spread of the virus has triggered the worst recession in 150 years. Millions are facing unemployment and poverty, with poorer and BAME communities harder hit. We are a country desperately in need of better job prospects.

A properly funded green recovery from COVID-19 presents the government with a huge opportunity for job creation. This briefing shows how an investment of £100bn over the lifetime of this parliament would create around 1.8m jobs, with much of this channelled towards ‘shovel-ready’ projects that would provide an immediate solution to the current recession.

Greenpeace commissioned sustainability advisors 3Keel to analyse the employment benefits of implementing the policies outlined in Greenpeace’s manifesto, A Green Recovery: How We Get There. The manifesto focuses on four policy areas: Clean Transport, Green Buildings, Smart Power, and Nature and a Circular Economy. It shows how rapidly deployed spending in these areas will help solve a key part of the economic crisis, create jobs and bring about far-reaching improvements to UK society.

This briefing focuses solely on job creation, but these investments will reap enormous benefits to the country in other ways. A green recovery could insulate homes, reduce electricity bills and cut fuel poverty, thereby reducing the thousands of deaths caused by cold housing in the UK every year. It could improve sustainable transport and address air pollution, transforming the health of our cities. It could revive natural habitats and safeguard these essential spaces for future generations, while building on the remarkable success of the UK renewables industry. This would create a robust, zero-carbon economy that is fit to tackle the climate crisis. A green recovery is essential to solve both the immediate unemployment crisis and the long-term existential threat of the escalating climate emergency.

A historic opportunity

This is a historic opportunity for transformative growth and in the coming months, the UK government has a duty to intervene, both to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic and to mitigate the climate emergency. Current annual spending on climate and nature is around £17bn. To stand a chance of meeting our climate targets, this needs to be increased
by an additional £25bn annually. Investment in the green sector generates a higher number of jobs for the money you spend than the same expenditure in the high carbon sector.1 Over the course of this parliament the investments outlined in this briefing will create around 1.8m jobs.

The benefit to the economy and to the health and wellbeing of society cannot be overstated. While this briefing provides analysis of how much work is created by investing in different areas of the green economy, the UK also needs policy and support to improve the conditions and quality of work. For this reason we urge the government to consider the ‘green jobs guarantee’ outlined in our manifesto. From a place of great jeopardy, with a short-term economic crisis
and the long-term existential threat of the climate emergency, comes a moment of great opportunity. We won’t get a better chance – the government must seize it.

Greenpeace is calling on the government to invest in the 1.8m jobs as outlined in this report as part of its commitment to building back better. With the necessary vision and commitment, the UK can create a country that works for all communities and the planet.

John Sauven

Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Read the full briefing

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