Any talk of a just transition will mean nothing if the offshore oil and gas workers aren’t supported in the move to renewables.
There is huge potential for regional job creation in the clean sectors of housing retrofit, offshore wind, and hydrogen electrolyser manufacturing, new research by Transition Economics and Platform has found.
The report, published on Monday, 31 October 2022, focuses on the potential for clean job creation in regions with significant employment in the oil and gas sector and its supply chains.
The research found that as many as 42,600 new clean jobs could be created in Tyneside; 33,800 new clean jobs could be created in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire 28,300 new clean jobs could be created in Teeside and a further 34,200 new clean jobs could be created in Fife and Tayside in the next decade.
Jake Molloy, an RMT Union organiser and ex-oil rig worker, said: “This research shows that it is possible to phase out oil and gas in a way that doesn’t leave whole communities at risk, and now we need politicians to get on with it.
"Any talk of a just transition will mean nothing if the offshore oil and gas workers aren’t supported in the move to renewables. As we phase out North Sea oil and gas, we need to see protections in place for workers - job guarantees, skills transfers and vastly improved conditions.
"As it currently stands, workers are finding it difficult to gain jobs in the offshore wind sector due to obstructive training standards bodies, whilst being subject to rapidly worsening conditions in terms of pay , safety and job security in offshore oil and gas.”
Rosemary Harris, the just transition advocacy campaigner at Platform, said: “At this time of political turmoil in government, we need to look to MPs in areas currently reliant on the offshore oil and gas industry to boldly speak out for proper public investment in renewables for a fair and just transition for workers in the UK.
"Continued oil and gas extraction is bad for workers and bad for the climate. We urgently need to scale up alternatives and enable workers in high carbon industries to transition to renewables.
"Simply clinging on to the fossil fuels of the past isn’t enough, and only serves to harm workers who could end up stranded in these industries as they are phased out.”
Current UK Government and industry policy is falling short in replacing jobs lost through the decline of oil and gas. There has been a considerable decline in the total number of jobs associated with offshore oil and gas, from 326,000 in 2016, down to 178,500 in 2020.
However, shifting away from fossil fuels has the potential to create at least three times as many new jobs by 2032 as the number of oil and gas jobs impacted.
Job creation at this scale requires place-based policies and public investment in sectors with the greatest potential to reduce emissions and create good quality jobs - with secure contracts, fair pay, upskilling opportunities and good health & safety practices.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Platform.