Johnson failing to ‘measure up to scale of challenge’ of climate crisis, says Miliband

·3-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Ed Miliband has claimed ministers are “off track” to meet critical targets in achieving net zero, as he hit out at a government record failing “to measure up the scale of the challenge” faced by the climate crisis.

Responding to an update on the proposed green industrial revolution — six months after Boris Johnson unveiled a 10-point plan — the Labour frontbencher said insisted the government is “good at self-congratulation but perhaps less good at self-awareness”.

“There is wide gap between rhetoric and realty — key crucial areas not dealt with, the scale of finance not being delivered leading us to be off track on our targets,” he told MPs.

Instead of the government’s “piecemeal” 10-point plan, the shadow business secretary said the country needed a “comprehensive green new deal with the scale of investment and commitment which meets the moment and the emergency”.

Unveiling the proposals at the end of 2020, the prime minister announced a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030, a pledge to quadruple offshore winds, a £1 billion green homes grant to insulate homes, and the UK’s first hydrogen-powered town.

Mr Miliband said the overall £12 billion in public funding promised under the 10-point plan was “still way short of the the of billions of public and private investment not over a decade but each and every year”.

The business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, however, insisted the government’s plan was “radical and ambitious”, telling MPs: “We are already seeing this ambition being delivered on”.

“The 10-point plan is projected to create and support up to 250,000 jobs to mobilise £12 billion of government investment and up three times as much from the private sector by 2030,” he insisted.

Mr Kwarteng also said the UK broke a new wind power record two weeks’ ago with almost half of the country’s electricity being generated by wind power.

“Last year we hit over two months of coal-free electricity generation – the longest streak since the Industrial Revolution – and two weeks ago we broke a new wind power record, with both onshore and offshore wind turbines generating 48.5% of the electricity in Great Britain.”

He continued: “We will also publish our Transport Decarbonisation Plan as soon as possible, setting out an ambitious pathway to end the UK transport carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest – and I know that the transport secretary is fully engaged and fully committed to publishing this.

“The impact of these commitments can already be seen. As of March 2021, battery electric vehicle sales stand at 7.7 per cent and plug-in hybrid electrical vehicles at 6.1 per cent of the market – that is a huge increase of 88 per cent and 152 per cent respectively from only a year ago.”

The comments come ahead of a crucial climate summit — Cop26 — in Glasgow later this year, with a host of world leaders, which Mr Kwarteng suggested would “a historic event”.

He added: “And in this context, our ambition and our leadership is absolutely crucial. The 10-point plan demonstrates not only our commitment to this green recovery, but also to the kind of leadership we want to show in this vitally important year.

“All of these actions bring us a step closer to net zero by 2050, meeting this planet’s greatest threat with ambition and innovation that is absolutely necessary if we are to hit our goals.

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