Public services can lead the way in meeting the UK’s climate targets and creating the jobs of the future – if government funds climate action adequately.
UNISON’s new report, with economic modelling by Transition Economics, shows how the bulk of climate action measures needed in public services can be achieved by 2035 with £143 billion in capital investment.
In our estimate, £120 billion should be provided by central government – in comparison to only £8 billion already committed.
These climate action measures – including insulating public buildings, offices, and social homes, installing electric vehicle chargers and heat networks, and decarbonising wastewater treatment – will generate an additional 240 thousand jobs, on average throughout the period to 2035.
Out of the public service sectors examined, local government required both the largest up-front investment (£68 billion) and the largest additional operational expenditure (£0.5billion a year), because of their responsibility for building retrofits, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and the need for enhanced waste collection and processing services.
Many of the additional capital investment and ongoing expenditure will be offset by savings over time. For example, recent public sector energy efficiency projects report a pay-back time of 9 years. Other measures, such as some ‘circular procurement’ practices, represent immediate budget savings.
Transition Economics delivered the quantitative analysis, investment and jobs modelling for this report. The policy analysis and case studies were produced by Dr Vera Weghmann of the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) at the University of Greenwich.