Last night Ed Balls spoke at the annual Green Alliance debate, making his first major speech on the environment.
The Shadow Chancellor made clear that the Government is creating uncertainty and scaring off green investment, in part due to caving in to the Tory backbenches. This is despite the huge potential for green growth and green jobs and the overwhelming consensus in support from the business sector, he asserted.
SERA particularly welcomed Ed’s belief that George Osborne is talking up the possibility of an implausible shale gas bonanza to ‘justify tacking away from renewables’. This on top of the failure of the Green Deal and the lack of delivery on energy efficiency:
By refusing to agree a decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill, by raising the prospect of a new ‘dash to gas’ instead of renewables, by shackling the Green Investment Bank, and by failing to implement the scale and certainty of policy needed to effectively de-risk investment, the government has actively undermined business plans to create jobs and growth.
In 2010, the UK was third in the world for investment in green growth – but we have since fallen down the league tables. The danger is that we will see investment and manufacturing expertise which should be based here in Britain going to other European countries instead.
In contrast, Ed set out a vision of a green economic future with Labour. A 2030 decarbonisation target, a balanced and low-carbon energy strategy – although regrettably still committed to nuclear – and clarity on the Green Investment Bank are at the heart of Labour’s plans in government for a green economy.
Our vision is for a race to the top – to secure a world-leading position for British businesses in helping the world meet the low carbon challenge – and in doing so create prosperity and jobs for people in this country.
US President Barack Obama, in his recent speech on climate change, called for those worried about how he would deliver on his climate goals to have faith in “American ingenuity”�. I believe this is a challenge that Britain can and must rise to as well. The country that led the industrial revolution shouldn’t simply look on as our competitors press ahead.
And it is because we have faith in British ingenuity that a Labour government would make sustainable energy a major national priority and give business the confidence to invest in the UK. The costs of failure to our environment are well known. But the costs to our long term prosperity and security are just as great.