Scotland’s Green Jobs Conundrum: How to Better Measure the Employment Impact of a Low Carbon Future

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The political ambition to turn Scotland into a low carbon economy, powered by renewable energy technologies, is driven, in part, by the belief that such a transformation will reindustrialise the country and generate tens of thousands of skilled jobs. This paper reviews Scottish energy strategy since 1999 and notes the stronger policy link in recent years between investment in low carbon and renewable energy and related employment growth. The evolution of this strategy has culminated in explicit, ambitious targets for green jobs created. However, defining low carbon and renewable employment is complex. Three recent estimates of such employment in Scotland came to quite disparate conclusions. There is an underlying problem: the current lack of appropriate disaggregation of such employment categories in the economic accounts. Were such disaggregation available, it would provide robust and reproducible measures of employment in defined activities. It would also identify the causal drivers of measured (current) employment and where these drivers lie on “temporary-long term” or “domestic-global” axes. Economic accounts, disaggregated in this way, would help demonstrate whether specific policy interventions are delivering the jobs forecast. In our view, greater conceptual clarity and a more significant allocation of resources need to be devoted to the measurement of activity and employment in low carbon and renewable activities in Scotland to allow any meaningful evaluation of strategy in this area.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Commissioning bodyInternational Public Policy Institute
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Publication series

NameInternational Public Policy Institute Occasional Paper
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde


  • IPPI
  • renewable energy
  • Scottish economy
  • low carbon economy


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