April 23, 2009
UK’s first ‘Carbon Budget’ – Investment in renewables, energy efficiency & green jobs
UK Chancellor Alistair Darling unveiled a series of ‘green’ initiatives in the UK’s first ever ‘carbon budget’ this week, with around £1 billion pounds set aside to encourage alternative and efficient energy use and deliver ‘green jobs’. The budget promised carbon emission cuts of 34 per cent by 2020. Darling called the move a “landmark step”. The increased target is well ahead of the 20 per cent promised at EU level and sets UK targets well above those in the US. Greenpeace dismissed the energy saving initiatives, expected to save around 380,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, as “woeful”. “The emissions saved per year represent about two weeks’ emissions from Radcliffe-on-Soar coal-powered station” said the environment group’s spokesperson. Lord Turner, chairman of the Climate Change Committee and one of the central figures behind the budget, commented “The carbon budgets provide the UK with the most ambitious climate change legislation in the world. We need to start reducing our emissions now, and we need tough policies and strong leadership from government.”
Offshore Wind Development – Offshore wind is one of the big winners from latest budget, Darling adding that Britain needed cleaner energy investment, talking of a new “North Sea energy hub”, built around offshore wind and including gas storage and carbon capture. “The credit squeeze is holding back major offshore wind projects. I want to lift the barriers — through £525 million pounds of new financial support over the next two years for offshore wind, funded through the renewables obligation. The potential is enormous,” he said. “I am confident that this will lead to major projects getting the go-ahead quickly, providing enough electricity to meet the needs of up to 3 million households.” This is still someway short however, of the £2 billion pounds asked for by the wind industry but should be enough to benefit a number proposed projects that are under threat including the London Array, the world’s largest. Paul Golby, chief executive of Eon UK, which holds a 30 per cent stake in the London Array, said he was “certain” the move “would help transform wind power in the UK”.
Green Buildings – An additional £435 million pounds of extra support will be provided “to deliver energy efficiency measures — for homes, businesses and public buildings” such as weatherproofing. The government also announced that from a £500 million pounds package designed to kick-start the building industry it would spend £100 million pounds helping local authorities to build low-carbon homes.
Car Scrappage & Green Cars – In an attempt to boost sales within the struggling automotive industry and encourage people to switch to greener, more efficient vehicles, Darling confirmed that the government will launch a scrappage scheme worth £2,000 per car. The scheme covers the 10 million cars in the UK currently older than 10 years. The scheme kicks in next month and is likely to run until next March or until the money runs out, whichever is soonest. The Chancellor also announced a major reform to vehicle excise duty next year “to encourage manufacturers to produce cleaner cars” new bands will be introduced offering an “incentive to encourage drivers to choose the least polluting car”.
Green-collar Jobs – The Governments green jobs strategy was key to this carbon budget. Darling claimed government spending on environmental initiatives in the fight against climate change would create large numbers of “green-collar jobs”. He claimed that there “could be over a million jobs in our environmental industries within the next two decades” providing “huge opportunities” for business. “These budgets give industry the certainty needed to develop and use low-carbon technology – cutting emissions, creating new businesses and jobs.” Funding for skills development and training also increased, with £260 million pounds focused on “sectors with strong future demand” which should benefit those in green industry sectors.
Other Energy Investment – The Chancellor confirmed plans for a further two CCS demonstration plants maintaining an option to build a further two in the future, how these projects will be funded was not confirmed. Darling also announced that highly efficient CHP plants are to be exempted from the climate change levy from 2013 which he predicts will bring forward £2.5 billion pounds of investment from the private sector.
Submitted by Sam Newell at Renewable Energy Jobs
April 20, 2009
What is a green collar job anyway?
You have heard the term green collar job discussed thousands of times lately by politicians, business leaders, union spokespeople and environmentalists. No other discussion (except the financial crisis) seems to have received as much media coverage — but what is all the fuss about?
In the United States, President Obama has promised to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years top create 5 million new green jobs, and he is not the only one to see the move to a low carbon economy as the answer.
In Europe political leaders have been promoting the creation of renewable energy jobs as a necessary step in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, and as one of the key levers in fighting the current worldwide economic crisis. In the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised that this month’s Budget will be a “job creator, a quality of life improver, and an environment-enhancing measure” outlining a “green” path to economic revival. Brown has previously stated 400,000 new green jobs could be created over the next eight years if the UK transitions to a low carbon economy. But what is green collar? What makes it different from blue or white collar? Why does it matter? And why does the issue appear so controversial?
Some more sceptical have argued that the term green collar jobs is little more than “green washing” and a term used by politicians for political ends; they argue that actually green jobs are no different or perhaps less efficient than the blue collar jobs they are replacing. This is an argument that is sure to rage on for some time.
For all the talk of green jobs, there is probably equal confusion about what actually qualifies as a green job.
If an employee is working for a car manufacturer on a sports car: blue collar. If the same worker at the same company is working on a hybrid does is that a green collar job?
Phil Angelides, Chair of the Apollo Alliance (a coalition of environmental groups, labour unions and politicians promoting the low carbon economy) states that to be green a job “has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.”
His colleague and Chief Executive of the Apollo Alliance Lucy Blake adds “A green collar job is in essence a blue-collar job that has been upgraded to address the environmental challenges of our country.”
Van Jones, social activist and advisor to President Obama says a green job is “a family-supporting, career-track job that directly contributes to preserving or enhancing environmental quality.” Jones’s site Green For All adds “most green collar jobs are middle-skill jobs requiring more education than high school, but less than a four-year degree — and are well within reach for lower-skilled and low-income workers as long as they have access to effective training programs and appropriate supports”.
So in the end does the definition really matter? Possibly, but certainly not quite as much as the important issues of unemployment, economic recovery, climate change, energy security and peak oil, which the push for a low carbon economy seeks to address.
Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club state that green jobs are a victory for the environment and for workers. The founder of RenewableEnergyJobs.com, the global green job site, Sam Newell agrees. “To me it’s quite simple, green collar jobs are good for the worker and good for the environment and that can’t be bad.” He argues “comparing the efficiency of green collar jobs with. Those in other sectors of manufacturing or perhaps old energy doesn’t quite add up. You are comparing apples and oranges; they are not like for like. It’s pointless to compare them using one measure such as energy output per employee. You need to take a range of important factors such as carbon production and environmental impact into consideration which none of these arguments appears to do.”
Green collar jobs are already a growing part of the global economy. As demand has risen for clean energy and environmentally responsible manufacturing, green workers are producing everything from wind turbines to electric cars to organic clothing and food.
With the serious issues of climate change and the development of affordable, secure and sustainable energy sources for all it looks like the green job is here to stay regardless which definition you subscribe to.
April 16, 2009
All across the nation, local trade schools and colleges are teaching the unemployed about green technologies. They’re learning to perform solar panel installations and repairs, wind turbine maintenance, and all manner of other services relating to renewable energy. The Federal stimulus package, which provides tens of billions of dollars for renewable energy sources, is allowing colleges to expand their curriculum to provide that training. Both unemployed workers and the schools themselves are hopeful that the Obama administration’s dedication to alternative energy will soon bring millions of good jobs for non-degree workers. Amongst those new jobs will be the thousands to be employed to retrofit Federal buildings and public housing projects so that they comply with higher energy efficiency standards.
According to the American Solar Energy Society, renewable energy generated some 500,000 jobs, producing some $43 billion in domestic revenues during 2007. Energy-efficiency was responsible for 8.6 million jobs and $1 trillion in revenues during that same year. The ASES’ study projects that somewhere bertween 16 million and 37 million jobs will be created in these industries by 2030. The range is expected to depend upon the Federal administration’s policies regarding Green energy. All in all, a very promising future!
Nothing is guaranteed, though, including Green employment in the future. With or without a degree, much still depends on both Industry and the demands of the public. If a corporation determines that it is even marginally more cost-effective to continue to use dirty techologies, unless there is an incentive earmarked for them, chances are that they’ll continue to pollute and forego the costs of upgrading their facilities.
We’re of the belief that renewable energy is our only future. You build it, they will come.