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UK green economy has failed to grow since 2014, according to official data

February 20, 2022

By Paul Homewood


Hardly the surprise of the century!!



The UK’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy has failed to grow since 2014, according to official data showing a fall in the number of green jobs.

In a blow to the government’s pledge to boost net-zero employment opportunities, the Office for National Statistics said its latest figures, covering 2020, showed “no significant change” in turnover and job numbers in the sector compared with six years earlier.

Employment in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy – which includes manufacturing, energy supply and construction – fell by about 28,000 across the UK over the period, to just 207,800. Among the steepest declines were in factories producing energy-efficient products, onshore wind, and solar energy.

The jobs data includes 15,000 for nuclear, which have existed for years, and therefore have little to do with Net Zero. Only about 20,000 jobs are in the wind and solar power sectors.

By far the biggest chunk is the 87,000 for “Other Energy Efficient Products”, including 42,800 in manufacturing and 35,800 in construction. It is not clear what this covers, but presumably it would include double glazing and other insulation for homes, which again are hardly anything new.

There is another 22,700 for “Energy Efficient Lighting”, most of which are classified as “Construction”, by which they presumably mean installation. Again. most of these could be regarded as simply rebadging already existing jobs.

What is evident though is that the shutdown of fossil fuels will probably cost a lot more jobs than are created.

  1. Simon Newington permalink
    February 20, 2022 1:36 pm

    Surely some mistake here as we are the Saudi Arabia of wind to be????

    • grammarschoolman permalink
      February 20, 2022 2:24 pm

      Perhaps in the sense that we are to wind what Saudi Arabia is to women drivers.

  2. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 20, 2022 2:45 pm

    Is there a description of what Net Zero means/looks like? I won’f bother to list the directly evident problem areas. (,domestic airlines emigrate to Madrid, may I import another Citroen diesel?, agricultural machinery, visited Dover recently and looked at the flow of artics? CO2 capture – Chinese CO2? Da da da) as Prof Kelly has said Net Zero is not possible. Anyway, I have asked my circle to describe NZ and we’ll see what they say.

  3. Dr Ken Pollock permalink
    February 20, 2022 2:50 pm

    Energy Efficient Lighting probably include the widespread switch to LEDs for street lighting. These use less energy, so would qualify. On the other hand the work may well employ local authority personnel, so will not mean a net increase in jobs.

    • February 21, 2022 8:21 am

      Our council having been hit with a huge increase in electricity prices for street lighting and has decided to change to LED lights. Sounded a good idea except it’s not so simple as just changing a bulb, but needs a whole new set of internal fittings. Very expensive too.

      • Dr Ken Pollock permalink
        February 21, 2022 12:02 pm

        Agree 100%. Also the energy company will charge you more for the smaller amount you buy, to protect their income – so the LA may not benefit from lower energy use. But the planet…

  4. Realist permalink
    February 20, 2022 2:58 pm

    Is anybody really surprised after all the invented and increased taxes, excessive regulation, even bans (actual and threatened) on what the market needs? Add to that picking winners and losers aka deliberate distortion of the market to try and force the market to use what the politicians want to impose. Less practical and simultaneously more expensive and yet politicians still wonder why the market does not want them.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 21, 2022 9:25 am

      We live in a fantasy created by bad government and stupid activists who believe that making things more expensive has no impact on the real economy of spending, investment and employment.

  5. Gamecock permalink
    February 20, 2022 3:02 pm

    The 21st century is ruled by an oxymoron: ‘green economy.’

  6. Penda100 permalink
    February 20, 2022 3:11 pm

    Not many UK Green Jobs but I guess the Chinese are very pleased with all their new jobs from the UK’s drive for Net Zero.

  7. Mack permalink
    February 20, 2022 4:14 pm

    I wonder how many tens of thousands of, what used to be called, ‘bin or dustmen’ have been included in this total? All of them I presume.

  8. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    February 20, 2022 6:43 pm

    Surely being ‘green’ requires zero growth?

    • accbakker permalink
      February 21, 2022 11:56 am

      Or maybe even economic shrinkage

    • Gerry, England permalink
      February 21, 2022 2:20 pm

      Reaching as high as zero growth would be quite an achievement for a green economy.

  9. February 20, 2022 8:02 pm

    Tip : Octopus Energy advert : one third page in Saturday’s Times
    “The Energy Crisis” is really a gas crisis”
    … cheeky twits
    “power generated from wind was already cheaper than from gas”
    The page has other dodgy claims/maths.

  10. Ben Vorlich permalink
    February 20, 2022 11:04 pm

    Miss sold in more ways than one.

    Green investing: the risk of a new mis-selling scandal
    ESG funds are popular, but research has found the sector is rife with greenwashing. Lawyers warn a reckoning is coming

  11. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 21, 2022 9:23 am

    If you want an economy to grow, employees fewer people in doing what you are doing. That means higher productivity which is what “growth” is. And that’s what brings down prices.

    So the Guardian gets economics completely wrong again.

  12. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 21, 2022 9:23 am

    And yet, in today’s DT they are in raptures that wind is providing 37% of UK’s National Grid!!

    • February 21, 2022 9:57 am

      Three storms a week forever and wind power can be a UK success 🙄

  13. Saighdear permalink
    February 21, 2022 1:41 pm

    Three storms a week forever and how do you go out to add more,service and maintain what’s there …. and the rest.

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