While Kwarteng is inclined to let the private sector find the solutions, many business leaders and politicians believe the fallout from Brexit, the rise of China, rapid technological change and the urgent need to decarbonise Britain’s economy are challenges of a magnitude that require deeper government involvement. “For two centuries we have had an economy built on fossil fuels and we have to get out of them in 30 years. If that’s not the case for an industrial strategy, I don’t know what is,” said the Liberal Democrat leader and former energy secretary Sir Ed Davey. The government’s critics hold up the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) as a classic example of its tendency to produce a bold, headline-grabbing target without fleshing out how it will help industry get there. According to Zap-Map, 582 charging points have been installed in the UK in the past month, equivalent to 19 a day. However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says it will take 700 new charging points per day to provide the power needed to support the government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. And then there is the production of the cars themselves. While the government is working to secure investment for gigafactories to produce the batteries for EVs, there is still a supply chain employing about 300,000 people to produce parts for internal combustion engines. “The government is focused on the headline of battery plants, but all the other stuff — like motors and regenerators — is being sourced in Europe,” said Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturing trade association Make UK. In the government’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, published last November, Johnson proclaimed that it would create as many as a quarter of a million jobs — but analysis by the Trades Union Congress shows that the Treasury’s investment in green job creation equates to £180 per person, compared with £2,961 per person in America. “The move to net zero points to a real need for retraining and upskilling, but we don’t have a clear strategy with skills threaded through it. Nobody has their hands on the levers to deliver the skilled workers where they’re needed . . . you can’t leave this to the market,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC.
Times 3rd Oct 2021 read more »