But the MPs say that if the right investments are made now, the UK could create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and become a world leader in the growing global market for green technologies – worth £3 trillion worldwide.
Tim Yeo MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said:
"The Government has missed a big opportunity to kick start a green-industrial revolution with its £3bn fiscal stimulus. Germany, the US, Japan and China have invested billions in their low-carbon industries. But only one sixth of the UK’s Government’s fiscal stimulus package was devoted to green industry.
"At the same time as cutting carbon emissions we could be boosting employment and putting UK firms at the forefront of the huge global market for green technologies.”
"A good place to start would be to launch an ambitious street-by-street programme of energy saving measures for households that will boost employment and keep UK building firms in business."
The UK Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan sets out how it aims to decarbonise the economy but it does not provide industry with a clear enough sense of what needs to happen to jobs and skills. Many of the key sectors essential for building a green economy in the UK are not receiving adequate support and still face planning, regulatory and infrastructure barriers that are holding them back.
According to evidence presented to the Committee one in three environmental firms is also facing a skills gap – with a shortage of skilled staff – that could prevent the Government from delivering its Low Carbon Transition Plan.
Many of the policies needed to cut carbon emissions will provide good opportunities to increase employment and could give the UK a competitive advantage in the coming decades. The UK has the potential to take a leading global role in a number of low carbon sectors.
Creating a strong home market in off-shore wind could ensure UK companies are well placed to exploit export opportunities to other EU countries – or promising markets such as the US and China. Increasing the speed and scale of the programme to insulate UK homes could also sustain employment and kick start a market estimated to be worth between £3.5 - £6.5 billion a year. Business needs confidence that financial incentives and regulation designed to promote low carbon industries will be maintained.
The Committee is calling on the Government to:
- urgently increase the amount of money that contributes to the overall green stimulus by 'greening' more of its current spending plans
- launch a ‘quick win’ street-by-street programme of energy saving measures for households that will boost employment and help UK firms;
- provide industry with a clear and stable long-term policy framework to guide them through the low carbon transition; and
- prioritise green skills in its new skills strategy
The Environmental Audit Committee recognises that the UK Government has allocated a significant amount of money for delivery of its Low Carbon Industrial Strategy and its Low Carbon Transition Plan. This includes the first investments from the £405 million for low carbon industries and advanced green manufacturing announced in the 2009 Budget. But the scale of this stimulus is not enough to meet the Government’s emissions targets nor does it compare in size to that offered by other countries. It is not enough to provide the economic advantage needed for the UK to compete at an international level.
On Wednesday 9 December in the 2009 Pre-Budget Report the Government announced it would continue developing low carbon industries and energy saving measures for homes, including the new boiler scrappage scheme.
Tim Yeo MP said:
"I welcome these announcements but investments and changes to the policy framework of this kind must be clearly signposted and long-term if they are to be effective and the skills must be put in place to deliver them."