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Low carbon jobs in cities: A roundtable discussion

Low carbon jobs in cities: A roundtable discussion

Thursday, 19 July 2012
09:30 - 11:00
The Work Foundation, 21 Palmer Street, London, SW1H 0AD


Professor Tim Dixon, Chair in Sustainable Futures in the Built Environment, University of Reading
Hanna Thomas, Lead Organiser, East London Green Jobs Alliance
Nye Cominetti, Report Author, The Work Foundation
Neil Lee, Senior Economist, The Work Foundation (Chair)

On 19 July 2012, The Work Foundation hosted Low Carbon Jobs for Cities, a roundtable to mark the launch of a new report of the same name. Attendees included representatives from local and central government, business, policy and research organisations, amongst others.

 Speakers provided the following summaries;

• Nye Cominetti, report author, argued that the UK’s low carbon sector has been a success story in recent years but that the country risks losing ground to other countries who are investing more, and who are more likely to produce and secure future high value low carbon jobs. He also explored a few of the policy options open to local government to stimulate low carbon economic activity in their areas

• Professor Tim Dixon spoke about his recent research into low carbon cities, which suggests that cities must have strong, high-level emissions reduction plans if they are to be successful. His follow up blog on this subject (which also draws on the Chinese experience) can be found here.

• Nisha Makan provided insight from the Cabinet Office into the process of negotiating City Deals, many of which include a low carbon element. She explained that central government is very open to innovative ideas for the devolution of power and responsibility, but stressed that the onus is on cities to be creative and come up with the ideas themselves.

• Hanna Thomas contributed a local perspective, relating her experience of providing jobs for long term unemployed young people in low carbon jobs in East London.

Among other themes, the group discussed:

• The need for joint public and private sector working to ensure low carbon projects (especially long term ones) are successful. Particularly, both sectors need to find the right balance of financial risk.

• Housing – especially the role of the social housing sector in delivering energy efficiency improvements to housing stock. The potential to generate low carbon jobs for social tenants was also discussed.

• Whether central government could do more. In particular, the importance of the Green Investment Bank to making future low carbon investments was discussed, as was the need for business to come forward with viable projects. It was also acknowledged that the scale of investment needed to decarbonise the UK’s energy infrastructure (estimated by the government to be around £200bn) is not matched by the size of the bank.

The discussion closed on a positive note, with participants agreeing that in spite of the many financial and political challenges, low carbon industries remain an opportunity both to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and to provide a source of jobs and growth for the UK’s path out of recession and beyond.

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