TUC calls for Green New Deal

Printing more money to give to banks isn’t going to save our economy – wealth is created by workers, not bankers…

Only Government can create the green jobs we need, says TUC

In advance of the Government’s low carbon economy summit later today (Friday), the TUC has called for bold government action to create green jobs and secure a transition to a low-carbon economy.

At the summit, the TUC will call on the Government to:

* Set demanding targets across the economy. While the overall target set in the Climate Change Act is welcome, the Government must follow up with detailed targets for individual sectors if behaviour is to change.
* Accept a central role for the state in creating demand for green products and services, using public procurement, providing green information to consumers and intervening in markets that are failing to encourage green behaviour.
* Invest in innovation, research and development at levels that allow us to catch up with those European economies.
* Invest in the skills needed in a green economy, and ensuring that skills shortages are not a block on future green developments.

TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Even without recession we would need decisive action to drive down carbon emissions. Preventing climate chaos can give added purpose to government action to tackle the downturn. Moving to a low carbon economy provides an opportunity to create jobs across the country from high-tech industry to public services.

‘But pre-recession tools and techniques will not work. Regulation, government grants and direct government activity may have been unfashionable in the boom years, but they are the only way we can green the economy in the midst of bust.

‘This will be a key demand for the trade unionists attending the Put People First march for Jobs, Justice and Climate on 28 March in the run up to the G20 summit.

‘Germany has half a million jobs in renewable energy, while the UK has just 7,000. One and half million work in the wider green economy in Germany compared to a paltry 400,000 in the UK. That must change with investment in taking the carbon out of energy generation and reducing energy use in the workplace, the home and transport.’

The TUC will draw on the research in its Touchstone pamphlet Unlocking Green Enterprise: A Low Carbon Strategy for the UK Economy which says that to push the UK in a greener direction, the Government must first convince business that it is serious about the environment and that green issues will be at the top of the political agenda even after the economy recovers. Ministers should be promoting the environmental message to the public, and where necessary introducing financial incentives to encourage both consumers and business to go greener.

The Touchstone pamphlet also urges the Government to assess the kind of workforce and skills that will be needed in the green economy. The UK will need more designers and engineers, and also workers qualified to install and maintain the new renewable energy technologies. Ministers need to act to ensure suitable degree courses and training schemes are in place, says the TUC.

One of the current barriers to unlocking green enterprise in the UK, says the TUC, is down to the current cost of goods and services not reflecting their actual impact on the environment, leaving companies with little incentive to introduce costlier, greener alternatives. This in turn makes it less likely than firms will invest in new green products and keeps consumer demand low.