South Korea and China focus on green construction jobs
We take a look at green construction jobs and how boosting them can help drive economic recovery following COVID-19.
The impact of coronavirus has been apparent across many industries, the construction industry has been one of the hardest hit.
Now a sudden and severe global recession has hit, lessons can be learned from the 2008 recession. Many industries recovered quicker than expected thanks to the introduction and increased focus on green economy. Green construction jobs could hold the key to quicker recovery in construction.
An example of a solid recovery from the 2008 recession was South Korea’s 2009-10 growth. The growth was a result of the investment in sustainable transport and green infrastructure. This included various subsidy’s on clean energy solutions such as solar rooftops.
South Korea, in addition to Ethiopia, is currently working to repeat this approach with a focus on digitalisation in order for a quicker economic recovery.
China’s first steps
As the first country to be hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, China has now begun its economic recovery. So far, it is showing signs of economic advancements. Li Fang, Chief Representative of WRI China said: "We are looking to increase investment in new infrastructure such as ultra-high-voltage grid connection to facilitate renewable energy, intercity transport and electric vehicle charging stations, 5G, artificial intelligence and the industrial internet”.
He then went on to say: "New investment should bring long-term benefits. We are learning from the past when, after 2008, recovery carbon emissions increased faster than ever and we don’t want this to happen again."
USA set to follow
The United States was hit much harder by the coronavirus pandemic, with over three and a half million cases. Although the virus is still very active in the nation, it has begun its first steps to recovery.
Dan Lashof, WEI’s US branch Director, is campaigning to push renewable energy and grid upgrades whilst reviving wind and solar power to be a major part of the nations post-pandemic recovery.
He said: "The sectors used to employ 350,000 people and were fast-growing. The pre-existing tax credits can be used again. The grid can be upgraded in a smart way, and electric cars and their charging infrastructure, and transit buses can be backed, lowering operating costs. This would put thousands of electricians back to work.”
He then went on to say: "Additionally, upgrading buildings with energy efficiency and climate resilience would employ a huge number, " added Lashof. "Installing weatherisation for low income households, and retro-fitting hospitals and schools to lower their costs with more efficient equipment would also create tens of thousands of jobs. Planting trees would create 150,000 jobs, targeting agricultural land. 5 million trees would contribute significantly to the global target of 1 trillion trees planted."
Although coronavirus is still very much evident in many countries around the world, signs of recovery continue to become clearer as we enter the second half of 2020, and green investment looks like it could be the way forward to faster economic recovery in many nations across the world.
Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030
Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.
The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture.
It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.
The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020.
Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.
The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.
While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.
Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.
Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse.
"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.
“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets.
Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.
Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."
McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:
- Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
- Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
- Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
- Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
- The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere