Could green recovery boost construction and manufacturing?
With the current climate crisis, the UK Government has pledged to move the country towards having a greener economy with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Investing money into sustainable working practices to pursue a green recovery can significantly reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
However, going green has other impacts over and above improving the wellbeing of the planet. According to UK100, if there was a shift towards a green economy, up to 3 million new jobs could be created. The majority of these new jobs – up to 1.2 million to be precise – would be in the manufacturing and construction industries alone, both of which have been facing the tough pressures of the global pandemic. As it stands, it is up to the Government to do more to help “build back better, build back greener, build back faster.”
The green skills gap needs closing
The construction industry is at the heart of the climate issue, with the built environment currently accounting for 45% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. To dramatically reduce this figure, greener manufacturing practices need to be implemented, and so there is an urgent need for workers to close the existing green skills gap for the UK to reach its 2050 net-zero pledge. There is also a need for knowledge and teaching in renewables, smart energy technology, and low-emission transport, with 750,000 construction workers set to retire over the next 15 years.
More sustainable homes
Green practices and sustainable manufacturing methods are not only required for future construction projects. UK100 states that for the net-zero 2050 target to be met, nearly every residential property in the UK will need to have undergone sustainable and energy-efficient home improvements. This retrofit in itself will dramatically increase the need for larger numbers in the construction industry and create thousands of new jobs for skilled workers.
Change urgently needed
While there is a clear need for more sustainable construction processes and buildings, there is a large gap in the funding from the Government needed to support these changes. Last June, the Government injected £5 billion to be invested in green infrastructure, yet the Green Alliance believes an additional £14 million is needed to hit the country’s target. UK100 believes Government funding should be funnelled to the sector via the COVID-19 recovery packages to help the industry – and the planet – back on its feet.