Miliband: Labour will be party of “climate and economic justice together”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ed Miliband is expected to tell conference that Labour will be the party of “climate and economic justice together” as he outlines plans to support British manufacturers in winning “the global race” to decarbonise.

Addressing the annual party gathering on Sunday afternoon, the first in-person conference since 2019, the Shadow Business Secretary will announce a ten-year investment commitment of £3bn in order to green the steel industry.

“As we respond to the climate crisis with all the transformation that entails, we have a fateful choice to make. We can try and put a green coat of paint on an unfair, unequal, unjust Britain,” Miliband is set to say.

“Or we can make a different choice – for a green Britain where there is an irreversible shift of income, power and wealth to working people. A green Britain where we deliver good secure, unionised jobs for people across our country.

“A green Britain where there is clean air and green spaces for everyone everywhere in our country. A green Britain where there are warm affordable homes for all, wherever they live and where we end fuel poverty.”

Miliband will argue that the opposition party’s plans for the industry, working with steelmakers in the UK, would support businesses, workers and trade unions to put steel at the heart of a national industrial strategy.

“I know what choice we need to make. Britain needs a fairer economy. Britain needs a green industrial revolution. Britain needs a green new deal. This is the cause I came back to fight for,” he is expected to say.

“Our party cannot, will not, must not shirk the fight for climate justice. This then is our historic responsibility. To be the party of climate and economic justice together.”

The Shadow Business Secretary will criticise the Conservatives for not investing in the transition to a green economy over the last decade, and tell conference that Labour would avoid a repeat of the “unjust transition” of the 1980s.

The UK government, along with many others, has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, which means reducing emissions as much as possible and offsetting the rest, but has been criticised for failing to match ambition with action.

Ministers launched the green jobs task force, comprised of industry figures, experts and trade unions, in November last year after Boris Johnson unveiled his ten-point low-carbon plan. It published a report earlier this year.

Recommendations included creating a new national organisation to help shape the transition to a green economy, establishing a ‘green carers launchpad’ and publishing a comprehensive net-zero strategy ahead of the COP26 summit.

Labour set out a plan for a drive towards a clean economy focusing on the UK manufacturing sector last November, calling for a rapid stimulus package of at least £30bn over an 18-month period with dedicated funding to low-carbon industries.

Miliband’s speech to conference on Sunday also follows commitments from the party to invest in electric battery factories, charging infrastructure and interest free loans for low- and middle-income households to boost car manufacturing and jobs.

He set out his vision for a green economic recovery from the pandemic in a speech earlier this year, calling for an “electric vehicle revolution” making electric car ownership an affordable option for everyone.

Commenting ahead of the speech on Sunday, chair and co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal Chris Saltmarsh said: “It’s fantastic to hear Labour building a vision around a green new deal, but it must back up words with policies.

“If it wants to deliver climate and economic justice together, the Labour leadership can go further, and set out plans that cut across the entire economy, and which are built on public ownership.

“As new polling today shows, a majority of the public are in favour of renationalising our energy companies. This is the perfect opportunity to build on that support and deliver a unifying, ambitious programme for climate justice.”

The Shadow Secretary of State will also describe the current gas price crisis, which has seen several energy firms collapse under rising prices, as a “disaster made in Downing Street” because of the complacency and inaction of government.

He called on ministers last week to cancel the Universal Credit cut, due to take effect next month, in light of rising bills and warned that half a million families will be pushed into poverty as a result of a planned 12% rise in the price cap.

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