The need to end our dependence on carbon dioxide releasing fossil fuels is perceived to be a defining issue of our time. Concerns about climate change and energy security are increasing interest in technologies and processes, which reduce our reliance on carbon dioxide producing activities. This paper from The Work Foundation considers the potential for the low carbon economy through scenario based analysis.
The scale of UK low carbon economic activities:
DTI & Defra – £16bn valuation of the environmental goods and services sector in 2004, employing 400,000;
UK CEED (2006) – 400,000 workers in emerging markets in the environmental sector;
Innovas (2010) – £112bn valuation of the market for low carbon environmental goods and services in 2008/09, 50% of these sales were identified within the emerging low carbon sector.
Analysis of trade data and FDI flows, conducted by Ernst & Young (2009), identified the following five key industries as potential areas for exploitation of strengths related to this agenda, related to specific sub-sectors: software; electronic equipment; business services; financial services; and machinery equipment.
Existing UK low carbon economic strengths (as noted by Innovas (2009): Renewable energies – wind, photovoltaics, wave and tidal in particular; Nuclear power (operation in particular); Alternative fuels; Building technologies; Green finance.
The analysis confirms that the low carbon agenda represents a major opportunity to create significant new employment in an area of expanding global activity. There is likely to be a focus on low skill employment for the installation and construction of many of the technologies and infrastructures associated with the low carbon agenda. There is also potential to create a wide range of highly innovative activities, which would demand high-level technical as well as soft management or consumer product development skills. These will be developed by expanding advanced manufacturing and service offers that help to meet domestic and global demands to cut carbon dioxide emissions. This is particularly positive since the wider low carbon agenda does place some existing employment at risk.
Photo from Creative Commons: Flickr: B Tal