The Trade Unions Congress (TUC) has set out its approach for achieving a just transition to the UK’s 2050 net zero target.
On 21 August, it published a report, Voice and Place: How to plan fair and successful paths to net zero emissions, in which it acknowledged a just transition will require different policy levers at different levels and, owed to the differences across the UK economy, will vary in approach from region to region. At national level, it called for government to have a coordinated industrial strategy, including an integrated energy policy with a long-term plan for reaching net zero and a Just Transition Commission.
This commission would advise government on long-term energy strategy, involving impacted workers, unions, industries and consumers.
The report also heard from unions in the North, North West, Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, as well as Wales, highlighting the opportunities and threats of a shift to net zero. It found nuclear energy is considered integral to zero carbon energy policy in the North West, while the UK’s decision to phase out petrol and diesel engines by 2035 means battery technology is a “massive opportunity” to the Midlands, North East and Wales if developed in the UK. It also called for a cross departmental hydrogen strategy, developed between government, industry and unions, citing its potential to play a key role in net zero as well as hydrogen’s potential in creating and sustaining hundreds of thousands of jobs.
It stressed government investment in support of these sectors must prioritise job creation, and drew on Transition Economics research, conducted on TUC’s behalf, which found an £85bn investment programme now could lead to 1.24mn jobs over the next two years. It also called for government to have an Olympics-style plan with every new infrastructure project to promote good quality jobs and training.