Retrofitting England's buildings and infrastructure will require £40bn of investment, according to UK100
The UK will require a "retrofit army" of nearly half a million builders, electricians and plumbers to carry out the enormous work required to scale up infrasructure and refit buildings in pursuit of net zero emissions by 2050, new research from green policymaker coalition UK100 has found.
Over 455,000 jobs will be needed in the construction and property sectors alone, the analysis finds, while it is expected more than three million jobs will be needed to drive the transition to a green economy across all sectors of the economy.
The UK Green Building Council estimates achieving net zero over the next 30 years requires improvements to almost all of the UK's 29 million homes. As a result, the workers required to carry out these changes need support and training to go green, such as incentives to switch from diesel and petrol white vans to electric vehicles, accompanied by seamless access to EV charging infrastructure across the UK, UK100 argues. Support should also be provided to encourage public transport use, walking and cycling, it adds.
UK100 - a cross-party taskforce of 24 mayors and local leaders representing 24 million people across England - has also submitted a proposal to the Chancellor today, calling on him to unlock £100bn as part of the upcoming Spending Review to support the rapidly growing need for a green army of workers. Most of that finance should come from the private sector, it suggests, with the Treasury "pump-priming" £5bn via a new 'Net Zero Development Bank'.
The proposals is based on analysis by UK100 in partnership with energy technology giant Siemens, which estimates £5bn of Treasury money could unlock £100bn of private sector investment by 2050. The largest single chunk of this investment - around £40bn - would be required for green retrofit work such as energy saving and efficiency in homes and businesses, thereby necessating a major focus on green skills and support, UK100 argues.
Such a move could also unlock £10bn for renewables such as solar, wind and biomass, £30bn for low carbon heating, £10bn for smart energy systems, and £10bn for low emissions transport such as electric and hydrogen vehicles, it adds.
The biggest demand for new retrofit jobs is likely to be in London, where around 64,500 green roles will likely need filling, the research estimates, followed by the South East of England at over 67,700, and the North West at 50,400 - the latter expected to be the crucial for the UK's nascent hydrogen industry.
"From Essex to Edinburgh, the move to a greener economy will create thousands of new jobs," said Polly Billington, director at UK100. "By unlocking private sector investment through a Net Zero Development Bank, we can reduce the taxpayer burden and ensure the money is spent prudently by disciplined allocators of capital."
BusinessGreen is hosting a Net Zero Skills summit on 12 October, bringing together all the key stakeholders - corporate executives and union representatives, policymakers and campaigners, graduates and apprentices, teachers and recruiters - to discuss how to tackle the net zero skills challenge and seize the huge opportunities offered by a green recovery. To register for the online event visit the Net Zero Skills Summit website.
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