Environment

The government needs to build a greener economy and create millions of well-paid green jobs 

At Big Issue we believe in taking measures to prevent us falling back into the deep holes we’re in now. That's why we've launched the Big Futures campaign calling on the government to create a greener, sustainable future and millions of well-paid green jobs

A man installs solar panels on a roof

The Big Issue is calling on the government to create millions of well-paid green jobs. Image by Como una Reina from Pixabay

“Green jobs”. It’s a term we hear a lot. World leaders are heading to Cop27 to decide the fate of the planet. Is there such a thing as sustainable economic growth? If so, green jobs may be the solution — to youth unemployment, to the climate crisis, to the energy crisis and more. 

Boris Johnson’s government promised the country would create two million of them to “build back greener” following the Covid pandemic. It was part of his plan for a “green industrial revolution”. But the government hasn’t made much progress on this. In fact, it still doesn’t actually know how to define what a green job is. 

As Rishi Sunak takes over at No.10, and the budget is readied, The Big Issue is calling on leaders to look to tomorrow. Our Big Futures call is a request for essential movement now on the biggest issues we face – on housing, on jobs, on energy and the world around us. 

We have written an open letter to the PM demanding that the government create a plan and policies to break the cycle of poverty for good. We have three demands. They are to create decent and affordable homes for all, to end the low-wage economy and invest in young people and to build a greener, sustainable future and create millions of well-paid green jobs.

The UK’s target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 demands an enormous amount of effort and mobilisation of a huge workforce to retrofit housing stock, scale up renewable energy and build greener infrastructure. 

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All this work demands skilled workers, which is why many see green jobs as a way to kill two birds with one stone: fixing the climate and unemployment issues at the same time. 

Of course, the transition to a greener society means polluting jobs will have to go. This puts the livelihoods and security of workers in oil and gas under direct threat. To avoid mass unemployment, these people will need green jobs to achieve a “just transition” in which nobody is left behind on the road to greater sustainability.  

But it’s not as straightforward as that. The parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee warned last year that the UK workforce currently lacks the skills needed to fill these jobs. MPs warned of a “skills gap” across sectors which threatens to undermine key targets.  

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The Big Issue is playing its part. Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of The Big Issue Group, has joined forces with Lambeth Council and tech investor Sustainable Ventures to open an innovation hub for climate technology and green businesses at London’s County Hall. The £5 million partnership aims to create space and mentoring for 4,000 green jobs and 1,000 businesses by 2025. 

The public is also on board. In a survey last year by think tank Class, an overwhelming majority of people said they wanted the government to help fossil fuel workers into secure green jobs. 

Now we need Sunak and his government to step up.

The Big Futures campaign calls for long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. Join us and make your voice heard. Sign the open letter here.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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