Caroline Flint today set out Labour’s five point plan to target green growth. Speaking at an Aldersgate Group event this morning, the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change called for a new industrial strategy that supports the delivery of genuine leadership by demonstrating that the UK can achieve success on both the green and growth fronts at the same time. Flint called for a change, highlighting the need for certainty and simple policies.
The five point strategy echoes much of what EEF’s have been calling for and draws on the 10 recommendations set out by in EEF’s report on Green and Growth published in December. Labour is calling on government, industry and the public to deliver investment in the low carbon economy; however the plan was light on the details in terms of specific policy recommendations.
The five points were:
1. Unlocking private investment, by delivering on Electricity Market Reform and Government acting decisively and consistently
2. Better public procurement
3. A strategy for skills for a low-carbon economy
4. A rebalanced economy, supporting growth in our regions and encouraging manufacturing
5. Engaging the public and communities
Each of these points finds parallels with EEF’s recommendations and it is encouraging that Labour recognises the challenges manufacturers face and the opportunities; however we need a shift in policy to help us unlock that potential.
The first call was to unlock private investment in the electricity market reforms and deliver low carbon energy for the UK, recognises the need to decarbonise our energy supply and the need for government to deliver on carbon capture and storage without delay.
Flint’s second call, for better public procurement, needs to focus on setting policy based on achieving the right outcome. The example highlighted by the Shadow Secretary of State of a proposed policy requiring landlords to achieve a minimum level of energy efficiency for their homes, shows that driving the outcome will lead to the greatest innovation.
EEF has lobbied tirelessly on skills and saying that the skills required to grow the economy and green the economy are the same. Government must ensure that STEM careers advice is part of Continuing Professional Development for science teachers and subject curricula and must clarify the legal status of apprenticeships.
The fact that Labour recognises the need to rebalance the economy and is recommending support for growth in manufacturing and in the regions is also encouraging. EEF has long believed that rebalancing our economy goes hand-in-hand with decarbonising it. The Shadow Secretary of State highlighted the importance of ensuring that manufacturers in the UK take advantage of the opportunities presented by the green economy, citing the example of the wind power sector where 80% of the equipment and services come from overseas. Labour is also calling for green investment hubs in the regions, such as Yorkshire and Humberside and the South West and Wales.
The final point was a called to the public to be active participants in the green economy. With public support faltering it is essential that the government provide the right incentives to help the public and small businesses unlock the potential savings, such as micro generation.
Sitting listening to this plan I was encouraged that Labour recognises the challenges and opportunities, however as I have said before we need see a shift in policy from the government to help us unlock that potential.
We believe the government must now look to the next spending review and deliver a holistic review of green and growth policies that will help manufactures to deliver the green economy.