Labour has criticised the government for offering “rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges” with the unveiling of the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan to tackle climate change and stressed the need for an “ambitious plan”.
Responding to Boris Johnson’s long-awaited proposals, Ed Miliband expressed disappointment at the scale of funding committed and highlighted that the green investment compared unfavourable to that in other countries.
The government has costed the ten-point plan published today at £12bn, and the proposals include several already announced pledges, such as banning the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030 and quadrupling offshore wind power.
Miliband said: “The funding in this long-awaited announcement doesn’t remotely meet the scale of what is needed to tackle the unemployment emergency and climate emergency we are facing, and pales in comparison to the tens of billions committed by France and Germany.
“Only a fraction of the funding announced today is new. We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now.”
Miliband added: “Labour has called for the government to bring forward £30bn of capital investment over the next 18 months and invest it in low-carbon sectors now as part of a rapid stimulus package to support 400,000 additional jobs.”
Following the publication of the much-delayed programme this morning, Labour highlighted that only £4bn of the £12bn package actually represents new spending. The ten-points of the plan published by the Prime Minister are as follows:
- “Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
- “Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
- “Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
- “Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
- “Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
- “Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
- “Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- “Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
- “Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
- “Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.”
Johnson described the plan as a “green industrial revolution” and said he has not “lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country”, arguing that the action points included will create 250,000 new jobs by 2030.
But commenting on the proposals unveiled today, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “For all the government’s talk of a ‘green industrial revolution’, it is off to a slow start with this plan.
“Ministers must do more to build a fairer, greener economy with decent work at its heart and deliver a just transition for workers.
“The Prime Minister should step up his ambition on jobs. TUC research shows that fast-tracked spending on green infrastructure could create 1.24 million good jobs by 2022.
“A proper green jobs drive can stop mass unemployment, power our economic recovery and help tackle the climate crisis. No more excuses – it’s time the Prime Minister put his money where his mouth is.”
Unite’s Steve Turner said the green plan “fails on so many counts” and urged the Prime Minister to “open up the tent and get workers and businesses involved in a genuine national effort to transition our economy”.
Commenting on the package, Turner said: “It’s scant on detail but more worryingly it suffers from a lack of ambition when it comes to tackling the challenges that UK manufacturers, our communities and climate are facing.
“We’ve urged the Prime Minister to match the ambition of our competitor nations so that innovation and job creation is embedded in the any strategy to build back better.
“There is enormous potential to both create the skilled manufacturing jobs in communities crying out for the work and to super-charge the development of green technologies to better our futures.”
The Institute for Public Policy Research welcomed the move from government to phase out the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030 but called on Johnson to go further with greater investment to reach the net-zero emissions target.
A recent report from the think tank calculated that the UK needs an additional £33bn in annual investment to reach its goal. The extra £4bn committed by the government in this plan represents 12% of what the organisation has argued is needed.
Head of the IPPR environment and justice commission Luke Murphy said: “What has been announced does not yet amount to the action and investment that is needed to get the UK on track for net zero and restore nature.
“IPPR analysis has shown that the government is currently only investing a little over a tenth of the funds needed to meet net zero and restore nature, and what is being announced today will not bridge the gap.”
He added: “While the new investment today is welcome, the government must also commit to investing the full £33bn that is needed each year to meet our climate goals.
“For instance, the target for the delivery of 600,000 heat pumps is welcome but is not underpinned by either the strategy or investment that is required to deliver it. The investment planned for sustainable public transport and nature are also still significantly short of what is needed.”
Labour backed a call from the think tank earlier this week, in which IPPR urged rapid investment in wide-scale retrofitting of homes in the North to create 77,000 new jobs in the region as well as 111,000 supply chain jobs by 2035.
The Labour Party has faced criticism over its own proposals for to tackle the climate emergency following the publication of its report. Labour for a Green New Deal accused the leadership of a plan that “retreats on key promises”.
A spokesperson for the organisation said last week: “Labour members and trade unionists demand a socialist green new deal. They backed it overwhelmingly at party conference last year and again in this summer’s consultation, in which more than two-thirds of responses supported our campaign’s demands.”
Labour conference in 2019 approved a motion, backed by Unite and then Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, committing to working “towards a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030”.
Labour for a Green New Deal, which successfully campaigned for the party to adopt the 2030 target, has highlighted that 1,400 (70%) of the submissions to the party’s consultation this year endorsed proposals for a socialist Green New Deal.
The spokesperson added: “Labour has a democratic mandate to argue for large-scale investment, expanding public ownership and a just transition for workers. We expect the leadership to keep its promises and fight for a Green New Deal.”
Labour proposed a green new deal in the 2019 general election, including a strategy of investment in green industries that it said would have created one million new jobs across the country while helping to combat climate change.
Johnson’s plan today comes after repeated delays, with reports of clashes between Downing Street and the Treasury over spending, since the Prime Minister first trailed the low-carbon industrial revolution plan in his 2020 Tory conference speech.