Green recovery could create 1.6 million new jobs

The IPPR has said that the government should invest urgently in a jobs-led recovery focused on helping the UK meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon-dioxide emissions and restoring nature.

The think tank’s new report, Transforming the Economy after Covid-19: A clean, fair and resilient recovery, warns that the investment promised so far by the Prime Minister falls well short of what’s needed. It calculates that greater investment in a green recovery and clean, low-carbon jobs – including a nationwide drive to insulate homes and prepare for new low-carbon heating - could create 1.6 million new jobs over the next decade, making it the most effective route out of the post-coronavirus economic crisis.

New UK-wide polling of more than 2,000 adults by Savanta ComRes for IPPR indicates that such a move would attract strong public backing. It found that 74 per cent of UK adults agree that the government should spend more on action which will address climate change and protect the environment. There is similar support for low-cost loans or grants to households to support the installation of home insulation, with 76 per cent backing the idea.  

Carbon-intensive investments received the least support of all options polled, with just one person in 10 wanting the government to prioritise extending the fuel duty tax cut (11 per cent), building roads (10 per cent) or providing financial bailouts to airlines (seven per cent).

Other findings show that: 65 per cent support low-cost loans or grants to households to buy electric cars; 66 per cent back increased subsidies for public transport; while support for actions that prioritise climate change and protecting the environment rises to 78 per cent (compared to 74 per cent nationally) amongst those living in seats won by the Conservatives from Labour in last year’s General Election, including those sometimes referred to as ‘Red Wall’ seats.

Carsten Jung, IPPR Senior Economist and co-author of the report, said: “The Covid crisis is an unprecedented disruption of the labour market. Even as the economy reopens, many furloughed workers might not be able to return to their old jobs. Concerted investment by the government, businesses and households can generate employment in new future-proof sectors.

“Now is the right time to invest in and drive a sustainable recovery. Borrowing costs are currently so low that even doubling the government’s debt would mean paying less to service it than at almost any time since 1950. And with many workers and businesses having spare capacity, shoring up demand now will also benefit the long-term health of the economy.”