While we find our way through one crisis, we cannot forget another, potentially catastrophic crisis we are living through.
I am glad that people in Bristol are still keeping the pressure up. Climate change is extremely urgent and cannot wait until we have fixed the current public health emergency. Many of you have written to me to express this.
If we’re to learn the lessons of the last recession we should aim to build back better, which means acting now to lay the foundation blocks for long term, sustainable growth and creating large numbers of good green jobs.
To move beyond the coronavirus crisis, we will need huge investment – which also represents an opportunity to build back greener. In 2018 the Government projected that the low carbon economy would grow 11% a year up to 2030, far outpacing the 1.5% projected for the wider economy. I believe UK can use the low carbon economy to drive itself out of recession and into a stronger economic position. This growth needs to tackle unemployment and be felt by people across the UK especially in areas which have faced historic under development.
Labour is in favour of the most ambitious green economic recovery in the world. We support action to protect key workers by insulating millions of homes, investing in walking and cycling infrastructure and supporting the businesses which are truly reducing emissions.
We should be seizing this opportunity. So I was disappointed that the recent Financial Statement did little to realign government spending to support our efforts on climate change and reaching net zero emissions, as my colleague Wes Streeting recently argued. I know my colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet will continue to press the government on this, work that I will support in my role as Shadow Housing Secretary.
While the government is pleased to trumpet carbon emissions reductions from within our borders, this progress is undermined by our actions elsewhere. I am worried that UK export finance is still being used to fund high carbon projects abroad.
This hypocrisy must stop. We cannot hold ourselves up as a climate leader while pumping billions of pounds of public funds into overseas oil and gas. As the host of the COP26 summit, we have zero credibility if we do not lead by example. Instead of financing fossil fuel projects across the globe the Government should look to direct funding at ways to protect and create jobs in line with our climate ambitions.
Many of you have also asked about broader environmental policy, beyond climate mitigation. I can assure you that Labour is pressing the government to put nature at the heart of recovery. We are particularly concerned about how the government’s trade deal with the US could lead to lower environmental targets in the UK, worse food safety and inferior animal welfare standards.