Investing in a green recovery could create 1.6 million new jobs after the coronavirus crisis.
That’s the suggestion made in a new report from IPPR, which states that delivering a clean and fair recovery is the ‘best way’ to boost the economy and says a drive to insulate homes and fit low carbon heating to buildings would provide a substantial boost to employment figures.
The think tank claims investment promised so far by the Prime Minister “falls well short of what’s needed” and urges the government to plough funding into in a jobs-led recovery focused on helping the UK meet its air quality, emissions and wider environmental goals – it warns without government intervention, unemployment could rise by more than 2.1 million to nearly 10% of the workforce.
It says improving the energy efficiency of homes could generate 560,000 jobs, while investing in better and more sustainable public transport is forecast to generate more than 230,000 new positions.
The report notes supporting 700,000 new jobs in social care and health care would meet growing need over the next decade while being in line with a low-emission economy and asserts that 46,000 jobs would be created by investing in tree planting and peatland restoration.
According to a poll of more than 2,000 adults conducted for IPPR, 74% of people agree the government should spend more on action to tackle climate change and protect the environment, with similar levels of support for affordable loans or grants for households to support the installation of home insulation.
Conversely, carbon-intensive investments received the least support of all options polled, with just a tenth of people wanting the government to prioritise extending the fuel duty tax cut or building roads, while only 7% back providing financial bailouts to airlines.
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.”