Boris Johnson Seeks Boost for Northern England With Green Jobs Plan

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Boris Johnson will seek to make good on his promise to boost the economies of neglected regions of the U.K. with investment in thousands of jobs in green industries, under a plan expected to be announced on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the prime minister talked his cabinet through his 10-point plan for “a green industrial revolution,” which will be published this week, his spokesman James Slack told reporters.

A British official said the plan will include measures to combine investment in technology and infrastructure to tackle climate change with stimulating growth in economically deprived parts of the country that Johnson has pledged to help.

Backing carbon capture and storage -- catching waste carbon dioxide and burying it underground so it cannot enter the atmosphere -- will help create jobs, the official said.

The plan may also include further support for sectors such as offshore wind, including manufacturing, to boost employment in port cities in northern England such as Sunderland, Grimsby and Hartlepool, the official said. Areas such as these do not have offshore wind industries but should, the official added.

Johnson’s plan is set to be unveiled later this week as he seeks to reset his government’s agenda following the departure of his two close aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain.

Johnson told his cabinet the plan is “vital to achieving a green recovery, and delivering new jobs through public and private investment,” Slack said during a call with reporters on Tuesday. “The prime minister said it will drive down emissions by creating and using clean power and level up the country by pioneering new technology and energy supply in our towns and regions.”

The premier also intends to use his commitment to tackling climate change to help build a strong partnership with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. Britain is due to host next year’s COP26 global climate change summit in Scotland and has committed to a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

Johnson won a majority of 80 in last December’s general election with a pledge to “level up” former industrial heartlands that have fallen on hard times. Many of these areas in the so-called red wall of districts in northern England had voted to elect Labour members of Parliament for decades before Johnson’s Tories won them over.

The premier has been under political pressure from within his own party to prove his commitment to the north of England, which has been hit hardest and earliest by recent government pandemic restrictions. At a private meeting of Tory MPs on Monday, Johnson insisted he remains committed to his “leveling up” agenda.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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