Key learnings from Green Growth Workshop #3

Managing the transition to a green economy

11 November 2021

3 minute read

Key Learning

  • New green growth opportunities will help offset and redistribute the impacts of new decarbonization costs. But there must also be a shift away from a sole focus on jobs in new green industries – important though they are – and onto 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.
  • A poorly managed transition will be determined by a broad array of economic and demographic characteristics, and not just how concentrated employment is in high emitting sectors. 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 as once unemployed, older workers have a tougher time accessing (re)training, and employment opportunities with those over 50 and unemployed more than twice as likely to stay jobless for over a year than those aged 18-24.
  • The unique industrial and physical make-ups of places means that they are faced with different challenges as they try to reduce their GHG emissions. For example in some places transport emissions will be the dominant form of pollution, whereas for others it will be commercial property or domestic emissions.
  • One of the fundamental challenges of managing the green transition is how policy is able (or unable) to address the cost of living implications that it may bring. The impending cost of living challenges we see facing the UK economy may coincide with broader ‘carbon poverty’ issues – policy attention is needed to determine how places can maximize from both the efficiency gains of decarbonization, and regionally distributed green growth opportunities.
  • There is a big disconnect between the demand for skills in growing green sectors and current local skills provision. Several IGN members discussed how they see a disconnect between higher education and further education institutions, employers, and local governance, stressing the need for further coordination to encourage the reskilling of workers.
  • Current demand for certain types of labour caused by the pandemic may make it more difficult to engage some vulnerable workers with local skills providers. Industries such as construction, in particular, are seeing levels of demand which will assure the engagement of construction workers for years to come. While this secures their employment in the short-term, it may prove difficult to engage with workers at risk of displacement in the medium-long term at this moment.
  • There is growing interest in green finance within local government, and with that growth in the exploration of the options available to places to fund their 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.
  • Now is the moment that talk should be turning into action. Trade unions in particular are concerned about focusing too much about the ‘future’ energy transition, and are worried that in doing so we will miss opportunities to protect workers who are facing more imminent disruption. Older workers in the oil and gas industry, in particular, were cited as an example of workers who may face disruption sooner.