Fighting climate change can help boost jobs

Europe has shown global leadership on climate change. A fifth of its budget is allocated to tackling the issue by integrating it into all major spending areas, and disparate national interests have been overcome to agree ambitious emissions reductions plans.

This has delivered tangible benefits for the UK in the form of jobs, growth and financial savings for households.

As decision makers on European policy, MEPs have a critical role in continuing to secure these benefits for the UK and the citizens they represent. They have a strong mandate for pursuing ambitious progress.

Seventy seven per cent in the UK agree that fighting climate change and improving energy efficiency can boost the economy and deliver jobs.

As this policy insight demonstrates, that has been the case, with the renewable sector in particular growing rapidly due to clear targets set at the European level.

Tackling climate change is a priority for Europe. It is one of five headline targets described in Europe 2020, the European Union’s ten-year growth strategy, with a fifth of the EU’s2014-20 budget allocated to climate related spending.

As we demonstrate, it matters to the lives of all European citizens, including us in the UK. European leadership and policies on climate change deliver significant benefits for the UK through:

  • new green jobs and supporting low carbon economic growth;
  • direct consumer benefits: saving them money, providing cleaner air and increasing energy security.

This policy insight also provides an overview of current EU climate and energy policy, upcoming decisions for MEPs and a brief summary of recent climate science.

The need for a shared approach in taking an ambitious approach to tackling climate change, the EU has recognised that transboundary problems require co-operation and shared solutions.

Collectively, EU member states are the largest economy in the world. Their ambitious approach to climate change has had significant impact at the international level, both on global deals and on business standards and regulations.

EU member states negotiate at UN climate talks as a group and taking ambitious action at home has allowed them to have an influential role in global negotiations.

They have also played a bridging role in forming agreements between other developed and developing countries, and their approach has strongly informed the positions of other countries. No European country could have this influence alone.

As the EU makes timely progress on agreeing the 2030 package for climate and energy, the UK and other EU countries will be able to maintain this influence in the UN global negotiations, taking place in 2015.

At the present time, the 2020 climate and energy package is the core of Europe’s approach to climate change. Agreed by European leaders in 2008, it commits member states to achieving the following by 2020:

  • 20 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions relative to 1990;
  • 20 per cent of energy consumption produced from renewables;
  • non-binding 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency.

Europeans want action on climate change:

  • 90 per cent consider climate change a serious problem
  • 80 per cent agree that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs
  • 70 per cent feel that reducing fossil fuel imports could benefit the EU economically
  • 92 per cent think it is important for their governments to provide support for improving energy efficiency by 2030

The EU is critical to UK jobs and growth. The EU’s 2020 climate and energy package has created green jobs, enabled the growth of low carbon industries and sharpened economic competitiveness.

In the UK, the 20 per cent renewables target has had a dramatic impact:

  • renewable energy generation grew by 125 per cent between 2007 and 201210
  • by 2011 the industry was already worth £12.5 billion and supporting 110,000 jobs

More broadly, the UK’s green economy is demonstrating impressive growth and proving itself resilient to recession. In 2011-12, a difficult year in the midst of the recession, green business was responsible for over a third of the UK’s economic growth.

Targets set at the EU level and transposed into UK policy have been important drivers of this growth.

EU green jobs in numbers:

  • 7.3 million people are employed in green sectors across the EU13
  • 25 per cent increase in employment in the renewables sector since the 2020 climate and energy policy package was agreed, currently employing 1.2 million people
  • 70 per cent increase in solar pv employment between 2009 and 2010, employing 268,110 people
  • 3 million people employed in the renewables sector by 2020, including 417,000 net new jobs
  • Potential for 400,000 net new jobs by 2020 due to the 20 per cent energy efficiency target
  • Potential for about 2 million new jobs in deep energy efficiency renovations by 2020