We urgently need to act in response to the ongoing global climate and environment emergency. The United Nations has warned that we have less than a decade to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, adding that this will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
Despite this, the Government has made far too little progress in decarbonising our economy. As the Committee on Climate Change has made clear, far from being on track to meet the Government’s own 2050 target for reaching net zero emissions, we look set to miss even the previous, less ambitious target.
The Prime Minister recently announced a ten-point green recovery plan. Unfortunately, funding for the plan does not come close to meeting the scale of the climate emergency. The Institute for Public Policy Research has estimated that there is a £33 billion gap between current investment and what is needed to meet the legal net zero target. France and Germany have each committed tens of billions to their own green recoveries. In contrast, the Prime Minister’s plan involves less than £4 billion of new investment.
This lack of ambition will be disastrous for tackling the climate crisis. We need a green economic recovery that meets the scale of the climate challenge, provides decent work and a fair, sustainable and dynamic economy, and delivers change at a systemic level.
As part of this, I believe the Government should bring forward £30 billion of capital investment over the next 18 months, supporting 400,000 additional jobs through measures such as:
- upgrading ports and shipyards for offshore wind supply chains;
- expanding investment in carbon capture and storage and hydrogen;
- accelerating investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
- bringing forward orders for electric buses;
- introducing a National Nature Service employment programme;
- expanding energy efficiency and retrofit programmes; and
- ensuring that updated sector deals for sectors like automotive, steel and aerospace protect jobs and promote the shift to net zero.
Future generations will judge us by the choices we make today to support livelihoods and face up to the realities of the climate emergency. My Opposition colleagues and I will do all we can to hold the Government to account on this.