The transition to net zero represents an unprecedented opportunity for the capital’s economy, with the prospect of over 600,000 green jobs by 2030.
New research shows that the green sector is already important for London’s economy. In 2020 there were 234,000 jobs in green sectors in the capital, accounting for nearly one in 20 jobs (4.4%). The power (83,000), homes and buildings (58,000), and green finance sectors (51,000) accounted for most green jobs. London’s green sector generated £42bn of sales in 2020/21.
London will see rapid growth in green jobs in the coming years, as the sector becomes increasingly crucial for the capital’s economy. The research forecasts the number of green jobs will increase from 234,000 in 2020 to 605,000 in 2030, and over 1m by 2050. This represents an increase of almost 350% in just three decades. Job growth will be fastest in green finance and low carbon transport.
While hundreds of thousands of green jobs will be created in the coming years, the research finds that there are 390,000 jobs in carbon intensive industries in the capital that are at risk from the transition. This includes 205,000 jobs in construction and 113,000 in land transport. However, the research finds that the transition to net zero will contribute to an overall increase in jobs in the capital, with 50,000 more jobs created than lost by 2030.
The jobs that will be created will be at all occupational levels, with a particular concentration of managerial, associate professional, and skilled craft. The green sector is expected to require over 17,500 more electricians and over 9,900 more plumbers in London by 2030.
Helping Londoners develop the skills they need for green jobs will be crucial in meeting the rapidly rising demand for workers in the sector. This will require both a significant expansion in relevant further education and higher education provision, and more people opting to move into green sectors on leaving education. However, given most workers moving into green jobs coming from other sectors rather than from education, we will also need to support workers already in the labour market to switch sectors and move into green jobs.
The report highlights the potential to use the shift to a green economy to tackle deep inequalities in London’s labour market, by helping disadvantaged Londoners into good quality jobs. However, addressing inequalities in access to green jobs will be crucial to ensuring all Londoners can benefit from the transformation of our economy. At present, men are over-represented in green jobs (66% compared to 54% across economy as a whole) as are white people (70% compared to 64%).
The research follows the release of the government’s long-awaited Net Zero Strategy last week. It comes ahead of the crucial COP26 conference in Glasgow, where world leaders will set out their plans to reduce emissions and address the climate emergency.
The research is the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of decarbonisation on London’s labour market. It was commissioned by Local London, Central London Forward, South London Partnership and West London Alliance – the four sub-regional partnerships who together represent the 33 local authorities in the capital, with support from London Councils. It was carried out by WPI Economics and the Institute for Employment Studies.
With London’s economy facing enormous changes from the transition to net zero, central government will need to work with London boroughs and the Mayor of London to ensure that businesses and residents are supported to adapt, and to seize the opportunities the change will bring.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Chair of Local London and Leader of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, said:
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to lead a green recovery and build a skilled green workforce in Local London, with hundreds of thousands of new jobs and new opportunities to re-skill our existing workforce over the next decade. Our boroughs are committed to ensuring that local residents and businesses benefit from the exciting growth opportunities in our sub-region, and the research from WPI Economics and IES will support our Green Local London partnership to unlock the potential of the green economy and growth sectors for the benefit of our residents and businesses across Local London and the wider London area”.
– The research uses a ‘mission-based’ definition of green jobs, including those jobs that facilitate the transition to net zero and broader environmental goals. It identifies jobs in 11 green sectors – homes and buildings; low carbon transport; power; business and industry; green finance; climate change R&D; climate change strategy, policy and planning; climate adaption; reducing localised pollution; reduce, reuse, recycle; and green infrastructure.
– This research was commissioned by the four London sub-regional partnerships of local authorities, (Local London, Central London Forward, South London Partnership and the West London Alliance), with support from London Councils.