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Think tank claims green 'revolution' could create more than 2500 jobs in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

By Alan Hendry

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Green New Deal UK says there is much more to a truly green economy than installing wind turbines and solar panels.
Green New Deal UK says there is much more to a truly green economy than installing wind turbines and solar panels.

A green "revolution" could result in more than 2500 jobs being created in the north Highlands within two years, a UK-wide think tank has claimed.

Research and analysis from Green New Deal UK found that investment in green infrastructure, energy, research and development, digital infrastructure and social care could replace all jobs permanently lost in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross due to Covid-19. On top of that, it could "provide a further 2510 jobs within just two years" in the parliamentary constituency.

Across the UK, it is estimated that government and private investment could create some 1.2 million green jobs within two years and more than 2.7 million in a decade.

Green New Deal UK – an independently registered non-profit organisation – points out that the UK's green workforce shrank between 2014 and 2019, falling from 235,900 to 202,100, according to a report in March from the Office of National Statistics.

Other analysis suggests that permanent job losses nationally relating to Covid-19 are expected to reach nearly a million in two years and almost two million over 10 years. According to Green New Deal UK, all of these losses could be replaced with green jobs in just two years.

Hannah Martin, co-executive director of the organisation, said: “Every day people are losing their jobs and struggling to find work due to Covid-19. At a time when we need to rapidly decarbonise our economy and build resilient future industries which will allow people and the planet to prosper, having so many people out of work makes no sense.

"We have so much work to do to build the future we need, but we must see proper government investment to kick-start that green jobs revolution. Our data shows the huge potential for green jobs in the UK, providing millions of good jobs in every part of the country.”

Green New Deal UK says its data and analysis challenges pre-existing notions of what constitutes a green job.

Its website says: "Most people understand green jobs as jobs that help us move to a post-carbon economy. Things like installing wind turbines and solar panels, insulating homes, restoring wild spaces and building green infrastructure. These are all really important, and there is a huge potential for job creation in this sector over the next two to10 years...

"But green jobs must also include jobs that sustain healthy, happy lives, done by the people we recognised as key workers during the pandemic. Most of these jobs are not only low carbon, they are also local to our communities, and help us to live happy and healthy lives. Jobs in health and social care, education, public transport, and jobs that sustain life by growing food, or enrich it by making art."

Ms Martin added: “We need to broaden our understanding of what makes a job green. A truly green economy is so much more than wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles – it is an army of retrofitters, carers, bike couriers and teachers, up and down the country, all working towards transforming our economy.

"Without a doubt, it is workers that have shouldered the greatest suffering during the pandemic. So now it is crucial that we put those workers at the heart of our recovery with a Green New Deal.”

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