Friday, June 24

The Guardian’s Viewpoint on Meeting Net Zero Targets: Take People With You | Editorial

IIn the run-up to the crucial climate change conference Cop26 November, the government has been far better at establishing striking COtwo reduction targets that take the necessary actions to meet them. This month, however, there have been signs of a backward sense of urgency when it comes to creating and safeguarding green jobs.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Vauxhall owner Stellantis will build electric vans in Ellesmere Port, saving the future of the site. The automaker has been promised significant government support for its investment. That followed Nissan’s decision last week to build a billion-pound EV center in Sunderland, which will include a new battery plant, or gigafactory, with five times the capacity of the UK’s only existing facility. . The government is rumored to have promised around £ 100 million as a sweetener. The UK is still far behind its European competitors in developing the battery capacity scale that will be necessary for the domestic electric car industry to thrive. But having introduced a ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles from 2040 to 2030 last year, Boris Johnson and his business minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, are finally backing the rhetoric with minimal cash and early days. of a green industry. strategy.

However, much, much more is needed if Britain and its workforce are to face future challenges. The UK has committed to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, a 78% reduction by 2035 and a 68% reduction by 2030. But, according to a study released This week, according to the Onward think tank, these goals will only be achieved through a labor market revolution in skills and training, which does not appear to be happening any time soon. Their report, Qualifying for the Race for Net Zero, estimates that 3.2 million workers, employed in sectors such as construction, manufacturing and transportation, will soon need to upgrade their skills or retrain. A new professional Infrastructure will be needed to reverse decades of neglect of the higher education sector and to open up traditionally male-dominated areas of skilled manual labor to women. The report’s authors estimate, for example, that while the need to modernize homes and decarbonize home heating will create roughly 1.1 million new jobs by 2030, only 5,700 workers a year are trained in these areas. They recommend, among other measures, tax incentives for employers to offset recycling costs and new “zero net technical institutes” to act as prestigious centers of vocational excellence.

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As Britain continues to grapple with the divisive consequences of deindustrialization at the turn of the last century, the political payoff for getting this right is huge. The scale of the transition to net zero will be particularly significant in those parts of the country with traditionally carbon-intensive industries, such as Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West. Equipping existing employees and future workers with the right skills to thrive in a well-paying green economy can instill a sense of pride and optimism in regions that have been disappointed by Westminster for decades. Stellantis’ plans for Ellesmere Port have secured the medium-term future of 1,000 workers. Millions more can be mobilized in the transition to a net zero economy. But if Britain is going to have the new kinds of engineers, mechanics, electricians, glaziers and wind turbine technicians it needs, it must start training them.

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