Managing the transition to a green economy

Learning from Glasgow ahead of the COP26 Summit

11 November 2021

By Karen Turner

3 minute read

A significant paradigm shift needs to take place in the structure and shape of our economy to reach the ambitious net zero targets set by local and combined authorities across the UK. As the IGN joint political communique makes clear, local leaders who are at the forefront of delivering the transition on the ground and supporting those left vulnerable as a result of these changes the make-up of our local economies.

But what is being referred to by the government as the ‘green industrial revolution’ poses both challenges and opportunities for our economic futures. Alongside facilitating the growth of good quality green jobs and helping to equip people with the skills they need to benefit from and contribute to the green economy, local and regional government must account for the specific ways in which their local workforce will be affected by the transitional process away from carbon intensive industries.

As the world’s focus turns to the COP26 summit in Glasgow for answers to questions on how to reach long term decarbonisation targets, Professor Karen Turner, Director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Scottish Just Transition Commissioner led a collaborative, informal session on what IGN member places can do now to support those most at risk of being left vulnerable by the transition. This session is the third workshop in the IGN’s Green Growth series and
explored questions around two key challenges:

  1. How to identify those who are most vulnerable to the transition, taking into account that different local economies will face unique workforce challenges.
  2. How local and combined authorities can support them out of carbon intensive jobs and into other good work using the levers at their disposal and local opportunities

Key Learnings:

  • Shift the focus away from solely new green industries. New green growth opportunities will help offset and redistribute the impacts of new decarbonization costs. But there must also be a focus on a broader set of policy objectives to improve the economic resilience of local areas during the transition. Coordination at the local, regional, and national levels is vital to achieve this.
  • Places will experience the transition differently. Each place has a unique demographic and industrial make-up which will mean that their experiences of the transition will differ. For example, places with higher proportions of older workers may require additional support to enable older workers to access (re)training and find new work. In some places, transport emissions will be the dominant form of pollution, whereas for others it will be commercial property or domestic emissions.
  • Bridge the gap between the demand for skills in growing green sectors and current local skills provision. Build connections and better coordinate to encourage the reskilling of workers. Older workers in the oil and gas industry, in particular, were cited as an example of workers who may face disruption sooner.
  • Explore options for green finance to fund transition. Shortfalls in public funding has led to several IGN members exploring the potential opportunities available to them to mobilise finance in the private sector.

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