The Labour Party’s climate policy team took part in a panel discussion with IEMA representatives at Westminster this morning, outlining what they plan to do should they win the next general election.
Shadow ministers Kerry McCarthy and Alan Whitehead were joined by IEMA’s CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, and director of policy and public affairs, Ben Goodwin, as well as Green Alliance's executive director, Shaun Spiers, and Business in the Community's climate action director, Gudrun Cartwright.
McCarthy explained how a Labour government would give a “clear sense of direction” on climate policy, adding: “We need to have no U-turns or veering off course – moving the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035 is a classic example of what you shouldn’t be doing.”
The shadow minister for climate change also talked about Labour’s ‘Green Prosperity Plan’ – which would be similar to the Inflation Reduction Act in the US – and how a ‘growth and skills levy’ would boost apprenticeships.
Whitehead then outlined how the party would look to make the UK a “green energy super power” by 2030, with a “wholly decarbonised power system”.
He explained how the energy grid is stuck in the past and needs to be reconfigured for renewables, with Labour aiming for a “five-fold increase in offshore wind, a doubling of onshore” and “trebling of solar”.
The shadow minister for climate change and net zero also said that the party would not grant new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea, and that the UK must “get fossil fuels off the system”.
“We think we have the markers in place to ensure we change the direction towards low-carbon energy, which will be sustainable and unstoppable for the next 30 years,” he added.
The panel then opened up for questions from a packed audience, touching on a wide range of subjects, including climate change adaptation and empowering local authorities to boost retrofitting of buildings.
Whitehead said that embodied carbon considerations should be made in the planning process, and would be included in Labour’s version of the Future Homes Standard.
The panel also discussed the need for new green skills and training – something that IEMA is pushing for to be central at the COP28 climate summit in the UAE over the next couple of weeks.
Mukherjee said that there is a “fragile consensus” for climate action in the UK, and that reframing the discussion around the prospect of good green jobs would help “convince a lot of skeptical people”.
The IEMA CEO added: “We would also like to see a cross-government body that takes a strategic approach to delivering green skills and jobs growth as part of our long-term climate and environmental goals.
“Good policy alone won’t be enough to transition the economy on to a sustainable footing, and there is a huge role for the private sector to play, as well as educators and professional bodies.
“In partnership with Deloitte, IEMA has published a report and a suite of training tools to help organisations upskill. We have also launched our Green Careers Hub to showcase and inspire green careers, jobs and skills.”
Image credits: S Maguire