Portsmouth and Hampshire have 'fewer' net-zero carbon opportunities, study suggests

THE journey towards net-zero carbon emissions will create fewer economic opportunities in Portsmouth and Hampshire than other parts of the UK, a study has found.

The Social Market Foundation study claims local authorities in the north had more to gain from meeting the government's net-zero target of 2050.

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The foundation suggested there will be more environmentally-friendly employment opportunities in certain regions in the near future.

Making Portsmouth International Port net-zero carbon neutral is critical. Picture: Andrew Hasson/Getty Images

Its working out looks at risks and opportunities in each local authority area.

The study takes into into account the distance each area is from new renewable energy sites and from nine major industrial clusters that are being decarbonised in a £171m fund.

The study's authors then looked at the percentage of jobs in the local authority linked to electric vehicles and low-carbon, and the percentage of the working age population who hold a NVQ2 or 3 qualification. Finally, the authors then looked at how far the area is from a university in the top 20 for STEM research.

From all of this the authors gave each local authority a score, called a Net Zero Opportunity Index.

Overall, Portsmouth ranked 330 out of all local authorities, with Fareham at 136, Gosport at 250, Havant at 322 and Southampton ranked 219.

But councillors believe that these ratings don't tell the full story, and aren't representative of the environmental progress being made.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'We have already made significant progress towards going net-zero carbon neutral. We've won an award for being the greenest council in the country, have put in more than 25,000 solar panels across the city and are doing large-scale solar projects at Lakeside and Portsmouth International Port.

'Once we make the port net-zero carbon neutral, every job there will be an environmentally-friendly one, so the opportunities are in the works - we've made huge strides but there's obviously a lot more work to do.'

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added that large employers in the city, such as BAE Systems and the University of Portsmouth, also have a key role to play in bringing emission levels down.

Nick Sebley from the Portsmouth Climate Alliance says there is still plenty to do in the city and across Hampshire.

He said: 'Tackling carbon emissions still has to be the top priority for local authorities.

'For example, emissions at Portsmouth International Port increased between 2018 and 2019 - so we can't slow down when it comes to that net-zero target.'

Scott Corfe, research director at the Social Market Foundation, said: 'The next three decades will transform local areas throughout the UK as governments, businesses and wider society come together to fulfil the country’s net-zero ambitions.

'Many parts of Britain face a golden opportunity to reap the benefits of decarbonisation, including green jobs and cleaner modes of travel.

'It is vital that we seize these opportunities, as the transition will also bring risk and disruption for some areas.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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