OTuesday Nicola SturgeonJoining other female world leaders, I called for women and girls in the address of global issues to play a greater role. climate change. The declaration was backed by the Scottish government UN WomenIt is well-known that climate change can have a significant impact on girls and women.
For those of us working towards an inclusive and sustainable economy, it was a welcome move – and one that Downing Street would do well to follow.
The current government has had a busy autumn with the Budget, the net zero strategy, and Cop26. Yet throughout these key moments, we’ve heard more about prosecco prices and belching cows than we have about the impact of climate policy on women.
The government anticipates additional annual investment of £50bn-60bn by 2030 in the transition to net zero. This may seem like a promising plan, but it is not clear how this will affect women and other marginalised communities in Britain, particularly in areas like transport and employment.
Housing affordability is a major contemporary public policy issue. Current private rental costs are the highest ever recorded, with average private rents in England at up to £8 per month. 43 per cent of women’s and 28 per cent of men’sMedian earnings. Housing is also a well-known public health problem. Prior to Covid-19, housing was a significant expense for the NHS. £1.4bn per year.
The tenants who spend the most time at their homes, such as older people, disabled, and caregivers, are the most vulnerable to damp and poorly insulated homes. Although heat pumps will lower household fuel costs, the strategy is not clear for private renters and vulnerable fuel-poor families.
Transport is also facing a similar problem. Last week’s Budget saw a welcome £2bn to increase walking and cycling, with £3bn to increase the use of buses. But any investment made in public transport, including bus, walking and cycle routes, will be refunded. must do more to meet diverse transport needsPrioritising safety, accessibility, and affordability.
Women are more likely make multiple short journeys throughout the day to get groceries, to the school or to care for elderly relatives. Currently, government investment prioritises longer transport routes from suburban to urban centres – journeys mostly taken by men.
It is likely that passengers will also be affected by any additional costs associated with decarbonizing public transport. This will have a significant impact on the most disadvantaged people, limiting their access and severely limiting their employment opportunities.
These employment opportunities will change as the economy decarbonizes. However, jobs in green technology are only one part of the story. Care is the other half. It’s time for a green, caring economy. An economy that prioritizes care for others and the environment in which they live is needed. We can do this in how we insulate the homes of the most vulnerable, how we enable people to move around and partake in society – and in how we design our labour market.
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As the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates, there is a crisis within the UK’s care system, starting with adult care. social careUnpaid care, childcare, and even parenting are all areas that women tend to take on more than men. It has also demonstrated how important care is for the well-being of a community and society. This is the opportunity to address these crises while also providing well-paid and rewarding care jobs.
Modelling carried out by the Women’s Budget GroupIt was found that a universal care system where care work is valued as a high-paying career would create 2.7x as many jobs than a comparable investment in construction. That’s 6.3 times as many jobs for women and 10 per cent more for men. This is a radical request by the government, and it shows how little paid work is included in the net zero strategy.
The government’s strategy is promising in addressing the scale of the change needed, yet contradictory Budget announcements like the fuel duty freeze and opaque pledges to “level up” confuse and hamper the drive towards a decarbonised economy.
The Cop26 climate talks offer an urgent opportunity for system changes. This is possible only if social justice, climate justice, and a green caring economy are all combined.
Anna Johnston is the research and policy officer at the Women’s Budget Group, an independent network of leading academic researchers, policy experts and campaigners