The UK government has committed to working with businesses
to nurture the next generation of 'green collar' workers,
as the UK seeks to tap into a global green business sector
estimated to be worth £350bn a year by the end of the
The commitment forms part of the UK government's published
response to last year's Commission on Environmental
Markets and Economic Performance (CEMEP) report,
which recommended a range of policy measures designed to accelerate
the transition to a low carbon economy.
The response outlines UK government plans to develop a 'consistent
long-term policy framework' that provides business with
the confidence to invest in clean technologies and better
foster the development of the skills required to build a low-carbon
economy. A spokeswoman for Defra said that, while the report
offered no new green policy commitments, it would serve as
the 'roadmap' guiding government attempts to drive
investment in low carbon technologies and business models.
Business Secretary John Hutton said there was a strong economic
case for promoting the transition to a low carbon economy.
"By the end of the decade, global green industries will
be worth as much as the global aerospace industry - in the
order of £350bn a year - and with the potential to create
thousands of new green collar jobs in Britain" - he said.
"So, there is a clear business case for maximising the
opportunities presented by climate change and making sure
that Britain unlocks these business opportunities."
He added that the UK government would help drive the development
of these skills through its push to deliver an increasingly
low-carbon energy mix and efforts to work more closely with
the business community - such as next month's joint conference
with the Royal Bank of Scotland on the actions required to
deliver a low-carbon economy.
Matthew Farrow, head of environment at employer's body -
- welcomed the announcement, but warned that urgent action
will be required to head-off a potential skills crisis. "There
are some parts of the economy where the pinch is already being
felt" - he observed.
"If you look at government targets for the installation
of home installation and wind turbines, you have to ask if
the there are enough people with the requisite skills to meet
those targets." He added that skills shortages could
also worsen as growing numbers of countries similarly attempt
to undertake the transition to a low-carbon economy - creating
international competition for people with green business and
Farrow said that the market would help rectify the problem
by driving up salaries and attracting more people to the sector
- but, he warned that, taking years for people to develop
many of the required skills, businesses and government would
also have to co-operate to help increase the numbers of entrants
to the industry.
"Like most skills issues, it will require employers
and government to work together to deliver a long-term strategy
capable of providing the skills we require" - he said.
Craig Bennett of the Corporate
Leaders Group on Climate Change similarly welcomed
the announcement, but insisted that the scale of the UK government's
response to the CEMEP report remained inadequate.
"If you accept - as the government claims it does -
that there is a strong economic argument for transitioning
to a low-carbon economy, then we would argue for a far higher
level of policy measures to stimulate investment and help
pull us out of the current economic downturn" - he said.
" You have to ask - where is the large-scale low-carbon