The Green Edge Reports Roundup, Feb-23
Continuing with our selection of reports and other publications from this month’s reading list.
Mapping the Net Zero Economy: Net Zero Impacts in National, Regional and Local Economies
Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit with CBI Economics and Data City, January 2023
A useful net zero economy taxonomy applied using real time industrial classification data, this report also provides a more realistic picture of the distribution of net zero commercial activity across the UK. The release of the underlying data used in this report would be very helpful to Chambers of Commerce, LEPs etc. undertaking local green economy studies. Of particular interest are the regional splits, the identification of the 20 net zero hot spots across the UK, and the definition of the net zero economy across 16 sectors (see Table 1, page 12) which support over 800,000 jobs.
Skills and Wage Gaps in the Low-Carbon Transition: Comparing Job Vacancy Data from the US and UK
Grantham Research Institute, LSE and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, January 2023
This report highlights that low-carbon jobs are more skills intensive than other jobs, especially around IT and cognitive skills, and suggests a larger and broader skills gap than previously considered. Another interpretation is that the first wave of low carbon jobs tend to be less well defined and are filled by ‘over qualified’ candidates, and the picture might change as low carbon roles become better defined and recognised across occupation standards.
Nature Based Jobs and Skills Action Plan 2022-2023
Nature Scot, 2022
This report contains a useful annex listing possible roles across six sectors: green finance, investing in nature-based solutions, transforming land use and future rural support, urban green infrastructure and active travel, nature-based tourism, and sustainable marine management. Fits well with the work of LANTRA and its career pathways.
Realising the Green Jobs Promise: The Benefits of a Regenerative Approach
RMI, January 2023
Points very strongly towards whole regeneration and not just jobs, taking in whole communities. Buried in the report is an interesting table looking at employment across a number of renewable sectors in the USA, which shows around 300,000 jobs in solar, 100,000 in wind but as many as 2.4mn in energy efficiency, the bulk of which are in construction.
Clean Energy Boom
Climate Power, February 2023
Collates data from public announcements since August 2022 when the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) became law in the US. In all 100,000 jobs are identified across 40 battery projects, 22 EV manufacturing plants, and 24 wind/solar projects. Shows the impact of changing the economics of investing in green energy.
Skills Development for Innovation and Growth: Insights from Global Initiatives
Future Skills Centre Canada, December 2022
Three useful case studies covering San Antonio, Texas; Chicago; and the Maritime Alliance for Fostering the European Blue Economy.
Growing Clean: Identifying and investing in sustainable growth opportunities across the UK
Economy 2030 Inquiry, Resolution Foundation, May 2022
Potentially, this is a pivotal piece of work in that it takes us beyond charting the green economy and into the myriad of businesses that are working across key sectors, looking at how they are performing when compared to other nations. We find that the UK ranks 15th across all clean technologies (Figure 3, Page 21), but that we have a leadership position in five areas - biomass and bioenergy, nuclear, carbon capture utilisation and storage, offshore wind, and tidal (Figure 4, Page 22). We are also introduced to the Green Transition Navigator: this is well worth exploring.
Taken as a whole, this report helps us start to understand green jobs (jobs delivering a net zero target by implementing a specific technology) compared to green growth and the jobs that drive and sustainable a longer-term advantage in the new green, circular economy. We were left at the end of the analysis with the feeling that that the UK is well placed, but progressive, supportive and long-term policy decisions are critical if we are to fully realise the opportunities that exist at home and abroad. It’s worth noting that the UK is in the top 10 of exporters of clean technology products.
Managing the complexity of green innovation
European Journal of Innovation Management, 25 (6), 850-866, 2022
This report highlights the point that when considering green technology and employment, innovation should be a key consideration as it extends the skills profile of an area. In doing so, it’s likely to take the discussion from green jobs and skills just to deliver net zero into those that underpin the next phase of the low carbon economy and its development.
The Circularity Gap Report 2022 and 2023
Circle Economy, January 2023
For those that like power graphics these reports contain plenty. One shows at the heart of a chart the goal of developing a circular economy, and then places countries on a series of concentric rings denoting their closeness to achieving this goal (much like a planetary chart). I doubt most of us could name those countries closest to the core goal of circularity. Very powerful.
The Heat Transition: Lessons from other Northern European Countries on decarbonising heating
The Economy 2030 Inquiry – Resolution Foundation, Feb 2023
The UK’s challenge is to exit gas for domestic heating, much like Holland. But the main lessons to be learnt here are long term policy framework, set targets, align regulations, use tax incentives, and finally, explore the potential for local heating network systems.
Missing Workers: Understanding trends in economic activity
Learning and Work Institute, February 2023
Take a look at the occupation breakdown in Figure 18 - it shows which ones are going through the greatest numbers of losses (generally managerial and technical) further compounding skills shortages across the labour market.
Environment Improvement Plan 2023
HM Government, January 2023
We find the 25 Year Environment Plan Outcomes indicators of interest to green skills and jobs. There are 10 indicators in the framework: air (7 indicators); water (7); seas and estuaries (11); wildlife (7); natural resources (9); resilience (3); natural beauty and engagement (7); biosecurity, chemical and noise (5); resource use and waste (6); and, international (4). We feel it would not be a huge task to work backwards from these indicators to the skills we require to deliver them. It could even be worked into an analysis using the work of Nature Scotland and LANTRA to derive a view for green skills for a nature-based future in the UK.
Race Alongside the Machines. Occupational Digitalisation Trends in Canada, 2006-2021.
Brookfield Institute, November 2022
Traces the evolution of occupations as regards their digitisation over the period 2006-2021 largely using O*NET data. We learn that 7 out the top 10 most digitally-intense occupations in 2006 were still in the top 10 in 2021. You’ll find that the top 10 occupations are also essential to delivering net zero. This report serves to illustrate the importance of digital skills to net zero progress (see Table 7, Page 27).
No Miracles Needed: How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air
Mark Z. Jacobson, Cambridge University Press
Explains in detail how wind, water and solar technologies work, and how they can eliminate air pollution, global warming and energy security. A key message here is that the technologies we need for net zero are already here, and they are predictable, reducing in cost, and don’t bring with them the downsides of speculative technologies like carbon dioxide capture, expensive ones like nuclear, or air polluting ones like biofuels. The immediately available net zero technologies are all modular, and can be skilled-up quickly, at scale, and across nearly all geographies. We like that.
Not Zero: How an Irrational Target Will Impoverish You, Help China (and Won’t Even Save the Planet)
Ross Clark, Forum
We won’t usually read let alone list such books, but Ross Clark does make some very useful points around the paucity of the UK net zero infrastructure. There’s no reliable and extensive EV charging system yet, a hydrogen network hasn’t got full governmental backing as a key net zero technology, and energy storage in the national grid as well as businesses and within domestic dwellings is wholly inadequate.
These challenges are real and justified and should be part of the Office of Net Zero’s agenda - if the Government listens to Skidmore and sets one up.
The whole push for standard modules is a critical factor in the future role out of green technologies. See: How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors Behind Every Successful Project, from Home Renovations to Space Exploration by Bent Flyvjerg and Dan Gardiner (Macmillan, Feb 2023) which draws on the “Wrights Law” (T.P. Wright, “Factors affecting the cost of airplanes”, Journal of Aeronautical Sciences, 3 (4), 1936, 122-128). And for those wanting to explore this topic further can read Chris Goodall’s book, The Switch: How Solar, Storage and New Tech Means Cheap Power for All (Profile Books, 2016) who shows the cost reduction for solar power has dropped by 370 times the 1970s.
Thanks for sharing, your list of recent reports is always insightful. Can I share our recently published paper on green skills https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/02690942231151638
Full report available here: https://aru.ac.uk/global-sustainability-institute-gsi/education-for-sustainability/green-skills