Election 2024: Just transition to net zero

Prospect represents workers at the forefront of reaching Net Zero. Working in the energy sector to deliver a clean power system, as environmental regulators in our public services, as scientists understanding climate change and as experts in our nature workforce.  

The UK has a history of poorly managing industrial change, leaving workers and communities to deal with the devastating consequences of abrupt economic upheaval. 

The problem

  • Failing to deliver new opportunities for workers in high-carbon jobs is risking economic harm and undermining support for climate action. Research for the Climate Change Committee shows high carbon jobs are geographically concentrated, risking deep damage to workers and communities if the transition is managed poorly. 
  • Independent research by Development Economics and YouGov shows we are behind on recruitment and training and that we need to recruit and train 400,000 energy workers between now and 2050 to get the UK to net zero. 
  • At the same time the sewage crisis has been one factor leading to 81% of UK adults believing nature is under threat and that more needs to be done urgently to protect and restore it.
Number of energy workers we need to recruit by 2050 400,000
UK adults who believe our nature is under threat 81%

What we want to see happen

Delivering Net Zero will cut across the whole economy, but our energy sector will play a leading role. To support this the next government should: 

1. Put just transition at the heart of our strategy for achieving net zero 

This requires a clear and funded pathway, access to skills funding and must put workers at the heart of decision-making to create good quality jobs. 

2. Create a net zero energy agency 

To co-ordinate our national energy strategy, taking a ‘whole-system approach’ including skills, workforce, planning and investment 

3. Replace Ofgem with a net zero energy regulator 

This regulator should be tasked with delivering a resilient, affordable and clean energy system. 

4. A net zero skills and training strategy 

This should include promoting high quality STEM teaching in schools, reforming the adult education system to meet the demands of net zero, and developing targeted skills strategies for each industry and area. 

5. Fund a comprehensive retrofit programme for homes and buildings across the country 

This should provide a mix of loans, grants, and tax incentives for insulation and zero carbon heating. 

Prospect is proud to represent thousands of members working in environmental regulators. As well as reaching net zero we need a proper plan to protect nature too. 

6. Back our environmental regulators 

Like the Environment Agency and Natural England and their equivalents in the devolved nations, which have seen their funding and workforces slashed. 

7. Recognising that environmental workers are highly skilled 

Making sure they are valued with proper reward and their voices are at the top table in decision making on this national mission. 

8. Resist any further efforts to remove independence from environmental regulators 

Political interference will threaten regulators’ ability to properly perform their role in protecting our natural environment. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

As well as the above policies, it is in the best interest of all workers if the government prioritises equality, diversity and inclusion. We would also like the government to commit to:

We need a comprehensive plan for a net zero workforce that embeds diversity and inclusion at its core. This needs to focus on expanding the pipeline of new entrants into the energy sector, in part by developing a properly funded national retraining scheme, but also needs to look at ways to more effectively retain existing talent within the industry. Acting on issues such as equal pay and flexible working will be a key component of this.  

*Note: This page reflects current Prospect thinking. Prospect National Conference takes place in early June. Relevant new policy agreed at Conference will be reflected here shortly afterwards.

Vote 24: Prospect’s manifesto to make work better

Working with our members, we have developed an agenda to make work better in Prospect sectors and right across the economy.
Learn more

Further reading

Prospect has long been campaigning on net zero and just transition with our members. Here’s some of our recent comment and analysis: