IEMA Head of Policy Ben Goodwin discusses IEMA's submission to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) inquiry into green jobs.

IEMA has submitted a response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) inquiry into green jobs. The submission identifies the need for the Government to develop a dedicated Green Jobs and Skills Strategy to put the UK on the pathway towards achieving its long-term environmental goals, including the 2050 net-zero GHG emissions target.

The EAC inquiry was launched at the back end of 2020 with a broad focus of understanding what provision and plans are in place for the UK to increase the number of green jobs that currently exist, including how doing so could help the economy to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Done right, a dedicated strategy for green jobs and skills could play a significant role in this aim by identifying opportunities for reskilling and upskilling workers who may have lost their jobs during the pandemic. And, at the same time, ensuring that the UK takes another step in the right direction towards putting sustainability at the center of its economic ambitions.

The ingredients of an effective strategy

For the strategy to succeed there are several important ingredients that it must include.

Firstly, it is important that the strategy is underpinned by stable environmental policy objectives and legal targets as this will ensure the right jobs and skills are developed to meet those. This again refers to the net-zero by 2050 agenda, but also other objectives and targets that are likely to come through as part of the Environmental Bill.

There is also an increasingly urgent responsibility to make sure that the green jobs market is developed out of a just process, so that all parts of society can benefit from its growth. This is the second ingredient and both government and industry have a role to play here.

Thirdly, it is not enough for organisations whose activities have direct implications for the environment to simply have one dedicated team that exclusively shoulders the responsibility for improving performance in this context. The responsibility should be shared more widely.

For example, procurement specialists, designers, project managers and finance professionals working in construction should have a ‘greener’ focus built into their roles. This should be repeated elsewhere in areas like transport and the utilities.

Finally, the strategy must appropriately define what ‘green jobs’ actually are, which does not just mean those in sectors where positive environmental impact is most obvious, like jobs in the renewable energy sector or in energy efficiency.

The strategy should consider the wider economy and the need for many job roles in different sectors to contribute to better environmental outcomes. This is true right across the economic spectrum, from the hospitality and retail sectors through to health and education.

Next steps and the role of IEMA and its members

IEMA and our members have the unique knowhow to contribute to the development of the Government’s thinking on green jobs and skills. This inquiry has enabled us to showcase the experience of professionals working across many sectors and ensure that leading thinking informs public debate on these issues.

Over the coming weeks we will be seeking to engage with officials and other stakeholders to set out the key messages in our response.

Once the Committee has published our response, we will then make it available to all members and interested stakeholders on our website. We expect this to be in a few weeks’ time. In addition, if IEMA is called to provide oral evidence to the Committee we will communicate the details of this too.

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Ben Goodwin, Head of Policy, IEMA

Ben joined IEMA towards the end of 2020 to take up the role of Head of Policy. In this capacity he looks after the delivery of IEMAs core policy and practice outputs across a range of environmental and sustainability issues. Prior to joining the organisation Ben worked in several similar policy roles at organisations including, most recently, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Renewable Energy Association.