As part of SERA’s fringe programme at Labour Party conference 2018 a roundtable in partnership with NUS and the Greener Jobs Alliance discussed the just transition to a low carbon economy and the role of education, skills and training in ensuring no one is left behind by this transition
As part of SERA’s fringe programme at Labour Party conference 2018 a roundtable in partnership with NUS and the Greener Jobs Alliance discussed the just transition to a low carbon economy and the role of education, skills and training in ensuring no one is left behind by this transition.
Speakers included Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade and Shadow Minister for International Climate Change, Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation, Shakira Martin, President of NUS and Graham Petersen, Secretary at the Greener Jobs Alliance. Others that attended included local government leaders, a vice chancellor, environmental NGOs, unions and campaign groups which allowed for a broad but in-depth discussion.
With an environmental focus, SERA welcomed both Barry Gardiner and Chi Onwurah’s comments which reflected a strong acknowledgement of the importance of tackling climate change and the commitment of a future Labour government to a green sustainable future.
The Shadow Secretary of State for International trade talked of the need for a strong environmental trade deal and a change to the economy equivalent to that of the industrial revolution. Barry reflected SERA’s ethos that tackling environmental issues is a social justice issues when discussing the need for decent high quality secure jobs and to ensure the benefits of the just transition is felt across society. The point was made that with close links to the unions Labour is the only political force in the UK with the ability to achieve a transition that benefits the many by bringing on board those most vulnerable and at risk.
Chi Onwurah echoed Barry in saying the Labour Party is about being part of a green sustainable future that works for everyone. The Shadow Industrial Strategy Minister described Labour’s policies that would help achieve a just transition including a National Education Service which will provide free high quality learning and allow people to retrain in the skills a new green economy needs. Labour’s targeting a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and a goal of 85% of electricity from on- and offshore wind, and solar by 2030, in doing so creating new jobs. A Labour government would also invest in energy efficient and low carbon housing and action to see more affordable electric cars on our roads. Chi argued “Transitioning to a green economy & creating good jobs aren’t contradictory goals – they’re both core Labour aims”.
NUS President Shakira Martin explained that sustainability is a key issue for NUS and like SERA sees social justice and social mobility as very much linked to environmental issues. She also argued environmental campaigns need to be more inclusive. Graham Petersen from Greener Jobs Alliance made 3 demands; 1. There needs to be national and regional just transition strategies. 2. Workforces should be involved in these strategies and 3. A Just transition commission should be established to advise Government on adjusting to a more resource-efficient and sustainable economic model in a fair way which will help to tackle inequality and poverty, and promote a fair and inclusive job market.
Following the roundtable, Jeremy Corbyn in his leader’s speech announced the ambitious but essential and realistic net zero carbon emissions target by 2050. Labour understands that this is an opportunity rather than a burden and recognises this can lead to a ‘green jobs revolution’ with Corbyn announcing 400,000 new green jobs. In contrast Theresa May made no mention of climate change or green vision.