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Transition to net zero could impact 10 million UK jobs

Published January 12, 2021

Transition to net zero could impact 10 million UK jobs

Up 10 million jobs could be disrupted by the transition to net zero over the next 30 years, a new report has found. Most of these jobs are likely to be concentrated in the same places that have been politically volatile in recent years.  

The report by Onward, a centre-right think tank, found the UK’s least prosperous regions, the East Midlands, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber, have the highest proportion of jobs in high GHG emitting industries.  

The highest emitting industries are energy supply; mining and quarrying; and agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Together these industries are responsible for nearly 30% of the country’s emissions.  

The report finds these regions are far more likely to experience economic disruption during the net zero transition than the South East and London. While the transition may mean the creation of new green jobs, net zero is also likely to lead to many job losses.  

There is also a strong correlation between the political battlegrounds of recent elections and the areas with the most high-emitting jobs. The seats that were targeted at the last election and which will form the key battleground at the next election are likely to suffer the highest levels of disruption of any constituencies.  

The report finds that 43% of workers in these constituencies work in currently high-emitting industries, compared to an average of 37% for Conservative and Labour seats outside the region. Liberal Democrat seats have the lowest proportion of high emitting jobs – just 32% on average. 

Next, Onward plans to research how to retrain workers who face disruption in the transition to the new economy. This was welcomed by Jeremy Nicholson, Corporate Affairs Officer at Alfa Energy: “Net zero is not going to be easy for some. It will be necessary to deal with rising energy costs and their impact on manufacturing jobs in the UK. The sooner this is faced up to, the better. The fact this report has been published is not a negative, in fact, it’s a good thing this issue is being addressed. Losing jobs in marginal constituencies in the North and the Midlands could derail net zero. If you are working in these industries, it’s reassuring to know this issue is being taken seriously at government level.”