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EXCL Andrea Leadsom: I will declare a climate emergency if I become Prime Minister

3 min read

Andrea Leadsom has vowed to declare a climate emergency and use Britain’s foreign aid budget to cut carbon emissions around the world if she becomes Prime Minister.

In an interview with The House magazine, the former energy minister said she would set up a Cabinet sub-committee tasked with overseeing plans to decarbonise “fully” by 2050.

She said she would focus the Government’s industrial strategy on the clean growth tech sector, which she argued could contribute more to the UK economy than financial services.

Ms Leadsom also said she would use a “proportion” of the overseas aid budget to promote decarbonisation in developing countries.

She argued her approach “would have huge appeal here at home because it’s the right thing to do”, arguing “it’s something that many, many young people are very, very concerned about”.

Asked what her priorities would be beyond Brexit if she entered No 10, she replied: “For me, a very big headline policy would be to declare a climate emergency, to say that the UK is going to lead the world in this area in the same way that we lead the world in financial services.

“This is a massive opportunity to demonstrate that far from decarbonising being a loss of GDP, loss of jobs and so on and so on, actually the clean growth technology sector is fast growing, and it can be an opportunity for new jobs, new skills, a way to get young people energised to decarbonising our economy.”

She added: “I think it would be very good politics because it would demonstrate our willingness to show leadership and to really tackle a very important challenge that I think would win votes for the Conservative party, particularly among young people and new families.

“Issues of air quality, issues of global warming and so on are very big concerns for many people.”

She argued that tackling the “climate emergency” could be a boost for the economy “as big if not bigger than the whole financial services sector”.

“The UK is in pole position to be able to take on that challenge and run with it. So, it has huge economic potential,” she said.

“The whole idea of new innovation and the reality of needing to decarbonise means that actually, business opportunities – new skills, new jobs, new growth, new productivity – the clean growth technology sector could be a huge world-leading new industry for the United Kingdom.”

It comes after the Financial Times reported that Philip Hammond has written to Theresa May to warn that reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 could cost the UK more than £1trn.

Last month, MPs backed a Labour motion declaring a climate emergency.

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