Thank you for contacting me about the need for the Chancellor to back green investment in the Autumn Budget.
As the host of COP26, the UK government has the opportunity and a responsibility to show real global leadership in tackling the climate crisis.
My concern is that although Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May 2019, there is a huge gulf between the government’s rhetoric on climate change and the reality.
The government maintains that it is taking steps to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; however, Ministers look set to miss this 2050 target. What’s more, they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious goal that preceded it.
The Climate Change Committee, which was set up under the previous Labour government by the 2008 Climate Change Act, reported in June that the UK government looks set to achieve only 20% of its climate change ambitions by 2035.
You have pointed out in your email that 14% of the UK’s climate change emissions are caused directly by our homes, mostly due to high-carbon gas boilers. This is an alarming figure and it perfectly illustrates the need for a green transition.
In Labour’s 2019 general election manifesto, we pledged to improve the fitness of our financial authorities to mobilise green investment, so that the UK’s financial sector is equipped to tackle the climate emergency rather than fuel it.
The Autumn Budget was announced on 27th October and a week before, the government published its ‘Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener’ document.
Responding to the document, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said that the plan “failed to recognise that the prudent, responsible choice is to sufficiently invest in a green transition”. He continued:
“Homeowners are left to face the costs of insulation on their own, industries like steel and hydrogen are left hobbled in the global race without the support they need, and the government cannot even confirm they will meet their climate target for 2035.
“While Labour has a bold climate investment pledge of £28 billion extra each and every year to 2030, the government offers a tiny fraction of that.
“This does not meet our ambitions for British industries to thrive, prosper and lead the world or show the government leadership required to tackle climate breakdown and bring the benefits of a green transition to Britain.”
In the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor did not mention “climate change” once. The Treasury allocated £450 million over three years for heat pumps – but that is the same amount that has been allocated this winter to the Winter Hardship Fund. The Chancellor has also been criticised for failing to make any serious new government investments in the UK’s green future.
Tackling the climate emergency is too important to be left without significant funding and as the host of COP26, the government should be leading the way. It is time for the government to step up and do the right thing for all of us and the planet.
As Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, said in her response to the Budget, a Labour government would deliver on its climate investment pledge of £28 billion every year for the rest of the decade, for giga-factories to build batteries for electric vehicles, for a thriving hydrogen industry, and for retrofitting – keeping homes warm and getting energy bills down.
Thank you again for your email. If you should have any further points you would like to raise with me, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade