A Green New Deal 2018: the imperative for new energy and new jobs in the UK, and globally

The tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the onset of the financial crisis, is on 15th September. The Green New Deal group, a team of British green economic thinkers of which I am a member, has updated a report it wrote at that time, recommending an investment programme on the scale of the New Deal of the Great Depression in the 1930s, to repair economies and keep people in work. Had this happened, we might have had a chance of staving off the rise of authoritarian and proto-authoritarian populism that has swept the world since. Our arguments (and the same or similar arguments by many others like us) were not acted on then. Many have analysed why, not least of late Jeremy Grantham and Martin Wolf. Now we fear arguments such as ours have to be acted on, or our civilisation will collapse into a collage of police states, ruled by despots desperately trying to dismiss as fake news the environmental disasters that increasingly will be washing away their economies, and any prospects their populations may once have had of a life worth living.

This slide show is my compilation, from entries in the Future Today chronology, of the energy-and-jobs case. The Green New Deal group’s report is downloadable here.


  1. As ever, Jeremy inexplicably fails to consider energy efficiency within his philosophy. See this article on employment from the September issue of Energy in Buildings & Industry for the relative importance of employment in this sector in the UK – well over twice those created by the renewables sector.


    For every person employed in nuclear generation, there are thirty-four people working in the energy efficiency product sector, according to the Office of National Statistics (O.N.S.). It has recently published an updated study entitled “UK environmental accounts: Low Carbon and renewable energy economy.”

    The entire low carbon sector was responsible for creating 234,000 direct jobs in 2015, the most recent year for which reliable statistics are yet available.

    Of these, the biggest single sector for employment creation is the manufacture, distribution and installation of energy efficient products. This includes the design production and installation of doors and windows, heating and ventilation, insulation, and sustainable buildings services. It is responsible for more than 102,000 direct full-time equivalent jobs.

    Other relevant sectors include energy monitoring and control systems and low emission vehicles. The most important of these “other” sectors are high efficiency lighting – providing some 25,000 jobs. Plus there are 15,000 people working in the low carbon financial advice sector.

    There are almost four times as many full-time jobs producing renewable energy sector than there are within the entire nuclear energy sector. In 2015 the ONS calculate there were 12,900 full-time equivalent jobs in nuclear – compared with 48,500 in the renewables sector.

    In fact, the ONS nuclear energy figure in itself is misleading. Some 9.400 “nuclear workers” do not produce electricity at all. That is 75% of the total. They are engaged at Sellafieid in Cumbria, mostly in nuclear repossessing. The reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is a filthy, dangerous , polluting and (critically) energy consuming rather than energy producing activity.

    So this leaves just 3,000 working on nuclear electricity production. This means that this sector provides employment less than 2% of those employed in the clean energy sector. Given that disparity it is surprising just how much more attention is paid by the Trades Union Congress to these few jobs- rather to the ever-growing rest of the sustainable energy sector.

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