With predictions that the wind-down of the furlough scheme from July will impact on employment levels across London, how quickly can you upsize London’s green economy to deliver on your manifesto promise of new green jobs that are diverse, sustainable, meaningful and well paid?
My Green New Deal aims to double the size of London’s green economy by 2030 through retrofitting buildings, renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and urban greening. London’s green sector has a strong track record of economic growth, doubling in size over the last decade, creating 150,000 jobs. Increasing levels of investment and ambition, both in London and nationally, will create conditions for all businesses to grow back stronger, and the green sector will be at the heart of this. Analysis from IPPR estimates that investing in a green recovery could create 1.6 million green jobs in the UK over 10 years. In London, meeting our retrofit challenge alone could support an estimated 140,000 jobs. I am redoubling efforts to support investment in London’s environment. My Green New Deal Fund is already investing £10 million in programmes that support around 1,000 green jobs, while tackling the climate emergency and inequalities. I have set aside £20 million both this year and next year to support the Green New Deal. One of New Skills Academies will focus specifically on green jobs. Together we can achieve even more. As we approach COP26, I want to work with the Government to increase the level of ambition at the national level, tackling the climate emergency while supporting jobs on a just transition.
Thank you, Mr Mayor. We get the idea of a Green New Deal where there are jobs at every level and every sector of the economy. We get that. In terms of the green infrastructure and some of the thinking around that, should we not be persuading our colleagues in local government to think about a single waste authority, in terms of trying to restructure some of the issues around recycling and part of delivering some extra jobs that may come of it? I was taken very much by the intervention of Assembly Member Best earlier on, but I always remember it was taken by a waste authority, who was the first proposer of that incinerator. Is there some better thinking that we can get around some of these recycling schemes that have a better production around those issues, more economic as well as creating jobs?
The short answer is yes. The more diplomatic answer is, you know, as someone who was a councillor and a former leader, it is a lot of effort to get 32 boroughs in the same place. You will be aware that we need to be careful that we do not take powers away from councillors. It is a challenge that we should look towards doing because you are spot on. If we are going to properly address the issue of increasing recycling, reducing incinerator use, address the issue of climate change and air quality, the current furniture does not work in relation to local government. It is not me wanting to have a bigger slice of their pie.
I would be more than happy if our colleagues in local government took it on board themselves and ran it themselves and work in partnership with ourselves. I would not want to do a power grab around that. There has to be a debate along those lines, around some of that green infrastructure, where they need to take those decisions.
There will be other issues where we can come to help and support. We can influence, we do not need to run it ourselves as a single waste authority, but they need to take the steps if they are serious about a Green New Deal. It is a positive step forward about that. I remember colleagues of the Assembly, if I can mention Brian Coleman [former Assembly Member] many years ago and he was totally against this and then came round to supporting it, partly because of the arguments of what it meant at that particular time. It is now an imperative, the issues like that that need to be addressed. We have the time to do it. It very much goes along with the colleague of working towards the next nine years. It seems essential in terms of our economic recovery that we start to raise these debates.
There is some good news, Len, you are getting geographical partnerships within councils in some parts of London. You are getting some of this happening almost by osmosis, rather than by somebody saying, “You know what, shouldn’t we just …” I am more than happy to have the discussion. What I would not want is a bun fight.
I agree. You do not have time for that. We need to just focus on the evidence and see where people are going. Could I just move on very quickly to training needs that we have identified around London’s green economy? London has always been a training centre at different levels. Colleges and universities that are doing the research and are training the next generation of people to take some of these jobs on. Is that an ambition of yours that London should be part of that centre and should that be shared by the Government; then take it nationally across all the university sectors and training providers at different levels? Where does that fit in terms of some of that? I have read some of the Green New Deal. I get some of it, but are you committed to that? Is that where you want to take it and with those partners? I know you are not in control of the sector completely. We have one aspect of where we can seriously influence it, but where are we going to try and drag the others into this debate of where we should be, particularly about where London should position that university sector and that other training providers sector?
Absolutely that is our ambition. It has to be our ambition. In the last five years our reputation around the world has grown hugely in this area. The number of green jobs in the small, medium and big companies is going in the right direction and people are excited to start a business in London or expand it and also to provide funding. The number of Asian investors who want to come here is fantastic. We are also working with the private sector around finance, around green infrastructure. The key thing though is to make sure that Londoners benefit from the jobs and monies that have been generated here. That is why the academies work is so important. If we are honest, there have been examples in the past where we have been world leaders in sectors where Londoners have not benefitted from the fruits of that. This is a really good opportunity for us to plan now to make sure we have the expertise for the jobs going forward. Retrofitting is the game-changer for reducing carbon emissions and it creates jobs as well, well paid jobs, going forward. That is one part of the equation. What about carbon capture? What about making sure that we can have things like fintech going forward? There are so many things we can be doing. The good news is a lot of new starts in London are already doing this and we think we can support them, not just be to be an incubator, but to be an accelerator and export those skills overseas. Our future over the next century has got to be in future-proof jobs and green is one of them.