NATIONAL ambitions to create greener industries in the coming years to reduce emissions could result in thousands of Barnsley workers being left with nowhere to turn, it has been warned.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show just over 20,000 people in Barnsley work in so-called ‘high-emission industries’, equivalent to 18.3 per cent of the town’s workforce.

Businesses involved in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, gas, water supply, waste management and transport have been deemed at risk - all of which combine to contribute to 80 per cent of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts warned associated workers are more likely to be affected by the government’s net zero pledge, as 14 per cent of them have no formal qualifications and could struggle to find new work when their jobs are phased out.

Estimates show 39,374 people aged 16 to 64 in Barnsley were defined as out of work last year.

Ben Harrison, director at the Work Foundation, said: “As the UK transitions to net zero, it is vital that we provide skills pathways for workers to move from jobs in high-emission industries into high quality, secure and sustainable jobs in the future.

“But the UK’s track record on investing in adult education and training remains poor - more than 7.5 million mid-career workers have not received any training since leaving full-time education.

“To ensure no workers or regions are left behind in the net zero transition, the government and employers should specifically focus on extending training opportunities to those in ‘at-risk’ jobs and on low pay.

“This should include additional support for the indirect costs of training such as childcare, and reforms to Universal Credit, to ensure recipients aren’t discouraged from improving their skills.”

Figures from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero show carbon dioxide emissions in Barnsley have dropped 33.2 per cent from a total of 1,542 ktCO2e in 2005 - when data is first available - to 1,030 ktCO2e in at the time of the last census in 2021.

Zero 40 - which is the council’s own in-house ambition - is followed by the borough-wide Zero 45 goal which includes residents, communities and businesses.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said adapting to a low-carbon future shouldn’t mean fewer jobs.

“New careers in clean industries will emerge, for example as part of the drive to insulate UK homes,” he said.

“The US and EU are pouring billions into the jobs and industries of the future green economy, but the UK has failed to follow suit, and risks falling behind when it should be at the forefront of the green revolution.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson added: “We’re leading the world in our transformation of the energy industry towards more clean and renewable energy, with over 80,000 green jobs being supported or in the pipeline since 2020.

“On top of this, our plans to power up Britain are expected to attract a further £100bn investment in green industries of the future and support 480,000 jobs by 2030, helping to level up communities across the country.”