The Mayor of Sheffield City Region made the call as environment and wildlife campaigners called for the Government to be “more ambitious” in safeguarding the environment - including protecting peatland across Yorkshire - to deliver on climate action, and to create more opportunities for areas worst hit by unemployment.
In a report published today, 4 April, leading think-tank Green Alliance has said the Government could create more than 16,000 green jobs, including thousands across the region in the areas facing the most significant employment challenges.
Dan Jarvis told The Yorkshire Post: “The climate and environment emergency is the greatest challenge we face. We need to confront it urgently while also tackling the gross economic inequality in our society.”
While Mr Jarvis welcomed “some progress” made by the Government to invest in green jobs for the future he called for long-term investment in Yorkshire environmental assets including the growth of the Northern Forest, increasing tree cover in an area stretching from Liverpool to Hull.
He said: “Green jobs are an integral part of my ambition for a stronger, greener, fairer South Yorkshire. As Mayor, I’ve declared a climate emergency in our region and pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest.
“We’re investing in electric buses, walking and cycling, the Northern Forest, and much more but we need help.
“If the government is serious about protecting our communities then it needs to accelerate efforts to transform our economy.”
Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, added: “Projects such as the Northern Forest...show that increasing native tree cover is a key part of the levelling up agenda shaping places people will want to live, visit and invest in.
“This will help increase employment opportunities as well as leading to happier, healthier communities.”
The call to action was echoed by former education secretary Justine Greening who said Boris Johnson’s government must open up green employment opportunities, including in South Yorkshire - synonymous with the steel industry - to end regional inequalities.
“One of the things I loved about growing up in Rotherham was that South Yorkshire might be known for it’s industry but it also has some fantastic countryside around too," Rotherham-born Former Education Secretary Ms Greening, told The Yorkshire Post.
Ms Greening, 51, added: “If the shift to a net zero emissions green economy can create thousands of jobs and we can also bring them to our local communities across the region then it’s a win-win - achieving net zero and levelling up Britain go hand in hand.”
To drive the creation of new green jobs, the leading think-tank Green Alliance and other environmental groups are urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to include environmental projects alongside other infrastructure in the government’s £4.8bn levelling-up fund.
This includes improving jobs in woodland creation, peatland restoration, new urban green spaces and coastal restoration in the UK.
Across Yorkshire and the Humber there are calls to invest in protecting peatland across the ‘Great North Bog’ area, including in Thirsk, Skipton and Richmond.
While there are further opportunities to create jobs in woodland creation, particularly in Skipton and Ripon, coastal restoration in the East Riding, and seagrass planting at Spurn Bight.
Patrick Begg, the director for The National Trust’s Outdoors and Natural Resources, said: "By investing in projects that make a greener recovery a priority, the Government could generate green jobs for the communities that need them most.
"This would accelerate the journey we are on to a more prosperous future for people and planet."
A Government spokesperson said: "As a world leader in the fight against climate change, our ambition to protect the planet goes hand in hand with supporting economic growth and prosperity across every region of the UK. We are determined to seize the economic opportunities and build back greener from the pandemic by supporting up to 2 million green jobs across the country by 2030.
"There are already over 410,000 jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chains across the UK. To build on this progress, we are bringing together businesses, skills providers and trade unions through our Green Jobs Taskforce to deliver the skilled workforce we need to put the UK at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution."
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