Where Cameron sees ‘green crap’ I see future jobs, investment and prosperity

As Labour leader I will challenge the myth that we need to choose between the economy and the environment

David Cameron with huskies in Norway as part of his bid to rebrand the Conservative party

David Cameron used to claim he’d lead the ‘greenest government ever’. Yet the way his government has behaved shows those were just hollow words. Or to paraphrase the prime minister – ‘green crap’.

Two days before the election, environment secretary Amber Rudd promised that the Conservatives would ‘continue to take action to protect the environment as part of our long-term economic plan for green jobs and growth’.

Just more pre-election hollow words from the people who reclassified child poverty to hide from their failures, cut the power on the Northern powerhouse and rebranded the minimum wage as a fake Living Wage.

The reality is thus: the government’s actions have damaged investor confidence in the UK energy market, will increase consumer bills and jack up the cost of decarbonisation.

That’s a disaster for our economy and for those of us who want to see serious global action on clean energy.

Today Amber Rudd is giving a speech in which she’ll confirm a further watering down of the Tories’ already inadequate commitments. Shutting down the Renewables Obligation a year earlier than planned – and cutting subsidies for onshore wind projects in the process – was only a popular move if you were asking the opinions of a vocal group of backbench Tory MPs.

If you were to seek opinions outside the 1922 Committee the response is strikingly different. Industry body Energy UK criticised the move, stating that the ‘announcement risks confidence in energy investment upon which a great deal of vital infrastructure investment depends’. The CBI argued the move was not only a blow to industry but could damage the UK’s reputation as a good place to invest in energy infrastructure.

Or to put it another way – if the government keep on undermining energy infrastructure, the lights might start to go off and bills will start to go up.

So onshore wind has taken a battering – but what about Solar? In May, Amber Rudd stated that she wanted to unleash a new solar revolution under this Parliament. Instead she’s threatened to cut industry support.

Responsibility? Consistency? I’m not sure Amber Rudd knows what they are.

So what do we do with an energy secretary intent on damaging investor confidence in the UK energy market, unfazed by abandoning those in fuel poverty? We send her to Paris in December to represent our nation in the most important international negotiations on climate change of our time.

We need an ambitious plan for the Paris climate change negotiations – but that plan needs to be matched by serious action at home as well. As Labour leader I will challenge George Osborne’s myth that we need to choose between the economy and the environment. Low carbon businesses were the biggest growth area during the recession, and the CBI estimates that the number of green jobs will increase to 1.4 million by 2020.

Where Cameron sees ‘green crap’ I see future jobs, investment and prosperity. The Tories have been relentlessly negative about clean energy and have failed to present a positive vision for what they want to see investment in – other than fracking.

We need to hold the government to account for its undermining of the renewables industry and unlock the potential to both cut carbon and create new jobs.

Cameron promised the greenest government ever. He hasn’t tried very hard.

At a time when we face the inter-connected global challenges of energy security, climate change and globalisation, Britain really does need the greenest government ever. Losing in May meant that Labour under Ed Miliband – a great climate change secretary – couldn’t be that government. For our country and for future generations, we need a Labour leader who can win and form a government that is truly committed to clean energy. There’s nothing ‘crap’ about that.

Liz Kendall is the shadow care minister and a candidate for Labour party leader. Follow her on Twitter

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24 Responses to “Where Cameron sees ‘green crap’ I see future jobs, investment and prosperity”

  1. Paul Merron

    Left foot forward? That is a joke from a middle ground politician. #Corbyn4Leader

  2. Foullaini

    “Tata Steel is planning to cut 720 jobs mainly at its plant in Rotherham.

    The firm, which also has a plant in Corby, said the business had been underperforming in the face of steel imports due to the strong pound and higher electricity costs which it said were double those of European competitors.”


  3. Perry525

    The National Grid recently told a farmer who wanted to connect hydro power to the grid in Wales – that it is at capacity. He would have to pay millions to upgrade his local grid to enable connection. If the grid is at capacity why would we need more windmills? Over the last few years power consumption each year has dropped. It is expected to continue dropping as more homes are insulated.

  4. JJDeede

    At last somebody in the Labour Leadership race attacks the Tories for their naked self-interest (and in some cases family interests) in pulling all support from green industries in favour of CO2-spewing fracking. This is an issue that needs to be at the forefront of Labour policy for the foreseeable future, making common cause with the Greens. The Tories have even declared war on bees this week.

    There are only two candidates coming out with any thinking in this campaign. I expect JC to follow this one as he did with several other ideas she has put forward. We all know policy differences on deficit reduction, defence and aspects of foreign policy will stop them working together.But all these ideas, on regional and community devolution, decentralisation, cooperativism, balancing the economy, finding the money for tax credits from the bloated corporate tax exemption portfolio, early years and lifelong skills education, building social and genuinely affordable housing to reduce housing benefit bills and give young people homes, and creating a green economy are crucial to Labour’s future. There is more agreement than many on both sides give credit. Liz Kendall is no Blairite if her policies are examined, but probably more in the Tribune/Compass tradition.

    Anyway, well said.

  5. JJDeede

    Our electricity industry is owned by corporates from all over the world. They don’t give a monkey’s about Yorkshire workers.
    The North East coast has tides coming in twice a day every day, and a smart government would hook Tata Steel up with tidal energy developers and make the steel that would make the turbines that would provide them with the cheapest, cleanest electricity imaginable.
    But this government wouldn’t dream of such an initiative. They want to frack up the countryside instead.

  6. Will Douglas-Mann

    i expect your farmer was told that the connection from his proposed Hydro plant to the grid was at capacity. This is a major constraint on installing new capacity in the more remote parts of the country and upgrading can be very expensive. The grid itself is demand led.

  7. pravjey

    Someone needs to remind David Cameron about the zero waste economy – even “crap” is useful and valuable

  8. Michelvis

    this Tory government is so sad. We must be relevant in this globalised world recovering from the excesses of capitalism.. I believe you can do this.

  9. Foullaini

    We certainly shouldn’t allow foreign companies to own our strategic industries, but the cheapest power and therefore the most jobs will still come from fossil fuels, preferably the ones recovered by British workers.

  10. JJDeede

    Green technologies can be led by British scientists and engineers, then exported. Fossil fuel technologies don’t have an exportable future, and are destructive of both countryside and people’s health. Fracking uses mostly US technology. Nobody in Europe will touch it except Poland.

    There are far more development and engineering jobs in green tech (and I would really like them to be situated in areas like the North East that suffered the inevitable loss of mining in cruel fashion), unless the scale of fracking or mining is such that we really are going to compromise the countryside. That’ll stir up the shires as much as HS2.
    Cheaper energy, which helps maintain or expand employment, medium and long term will be from renewables. Plus green stuff can be scaled at community level, spreading the jobs and the resilience of supply The government should concentrate on improving the grid and encouraging efficiency, not only, but especially in industry.

  11. JoeDM

    And the climate scam continues …

  12. Mike Stallard

    That is exactly why the Labour Party was not elected. Windmills do not work when the wind doesn’t blow and they produce just a tiny fraction of our electricity at enormous cost. Solar panels do not work in UK – but they do work in the Sahara Desert. Can you possibly spot the difference? Tidal Flows are good, of course, but for the billions of pounds involved, why not depend on dear old king coal? Fracking? Good heavens no! The USA does that! And it causes great anger among the fairies at the bottom of the garden!
    Oh – sorry, I forgot, you still believe (as Mr Cameron did fifteen years ago since when the world has not warmed at all) in AGW.
    Meanwhile industry, which depends on electricity (steel industry? Aluminium industry?), flees to countries which have a lot more common sense as our European electricity prices soar. Oh – sorry, I forgot, that is all the fault of the greedy companies, nothing to do with me, guv.

  13. Mike Stallard

    I can see that you are not an industrialist!

  14. stevep

    There seems to be a lot of debate and arguing in Britain about what source of energy is best, gas, oil, coal, wind, waves, nuclear etc. – All driven by powerful lobbying interests. What is clear is that no one agrees with anyone else on the way forward. Just what suits their particular interests.
    What is becoming even clearer is that a centralised energy policy is needed, to figure out what is best for Britain. All of us, that is. Not just the suits. Leaving this shambles in place is madness.
    Labour needs to commit to nationalising the energy industry, to enable sensible discussion to take place and deliver the best possible plan for our future energy needs. it would be a vote winner.

  15. Cole

    Trust me, fracking is pretty unpopular in the US, especially near the immunities where it is happening.

  16. Cole

    Ah, another troglodyte on climate change. I thought the climate change deniers had given up, defeated by science, but apparently not…

  17. Cole

    That should read ‘communities’.

  18. AlanGiles

    I agree with Ms Kendall for the first time. The Green economy is a vital component of the future. She is to be congratulated on saying what she did, however, I could not support her views on welfare, but two of the other contestants are saying very little.

  19. Guy Dawe

    No global warming for nearly two decades so we are being sold green policies on a false costly prospectus.
    As for recycling industries this obviously makes enormous sense economically and these industries need no subsidies.
    Other so called green policies like the Severn barrage that could provide 5% of the UK energy needs for eternity has consistently been knocked back because it would harm eels …. aaaargh

  20. antoinettewreeves

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  21. Faerieson

    Quite apart from this government’s bloated refusal to accept the damaging divisiveness of its current policies, any pretence regarding ‘green’ credentials must be far beyond farce!

    Whether it be Michael Benyon’s encouraged destruction of native common buzzard nests, a steadfast refusal to accept the obvious underlying pressure from grouse-moor owners for their groundsmen to kill threatened nesting hen harriers and to prosecute accordingly, or the seeming inability to comprehend the importance of bees in the ecosystem prior to evaluating viable crop pesticides, the list is almost endless! Nothing environmental is regarded as sacred! One can almost hear the disingenuous words of Cameron, in the debate over drilling for oil in the Antarctic.

    Behind the pretended screen of austerity, all manner of public land and/or national parks may soon be lost to misnomer developers. This ugly and malformed lovechild of a feasting-frenzied coupling of extreme-self-interest and a blinkered-eco-ignorance may well yet transpire to be the most damaging national concern yet!

  22. Faerieson

    Global warming aside, upon which your point may well be valid, green issues, unless they prove to be virtually counter-productive, should not be so easily dismissed.

    Having been fortunate enough to have travelled a bit, and with an interest in the fuller globe, it is impossible not to have noticed areas of immense, oft-irreparable damage, that current cut-corners economics has wrought.

    Undoubtedly there is already an exploitative component to ‘the green economy,’ but cut this adrift and there could well be something well-worth exploring, before our depleted globe wishes we had.

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