Peter Dowd MP: The Treasury will be at the heart of our efforts to tackle the climate challenge

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

Labour will work with industry to build an economy that protects the environment and addresses inequality, writes Peter Dowd MP

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corby addressing protesters at Parliament Square, London.
Credit: 
PA

Labour has long recognised the need to take radical action to deal with climate change, which is why we committed back in 2017 for 60% of the UK’s energy to come from zero-carbon or renewables by 2030, and why we led the charge in getting Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

In government, the Treasury will be at the heart of our efforts to tackle the climate challenge, reduce regional inequalities, invest in cutting edge research and development, and upgrade the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

We will use our National Transformation Fund, which will spend an additional £250bn of capital expenditure over 10 years, funded by government bonds, to deliver the investment and infrastructure that will transition the UK to a net zero economy at pace.

A newly created unit will manage the fund from the North of England, alongside other parts of the Treasury that will be moving out of the capital to rebalance economic decision-making to the regional and local level. This specialist unit will ensure that additional expenditure under a Labour government is targeted, and that investment to regenerate long forgotten communities and regions also leads to environmental transformation.

This additional capital expenditure will include: funding solar power and retrofitting homes, so that people can reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills at the same time; wind turbines that will deliver power through our publicly-owned national grid network; and marine power through tidal lagoons like the Mersey Tidal Power Project, harnessing the power of the River Mersey and the Liverpool Bay to produce clean, renewable energy to power up to a million homes, create thousands of jobs, and contribute towards the UK’s zero carbon economy.

Under a Labour government the private sector will also be asked to do its part to ensure the UK is match-fit to reach its net zero carbon target. Labour will construct a new banking eco-system through the creation of a National Investment Bank and a network of regional development banks, which will allow small and medium-sized businesses to leverage government guarantees to attract low-cost finance which can be invested in infrastructure projects. We will also review, and consider rewriting where necessary, the Treasury’s Green Book and other rules on project evaluation to make sure they capture the environmental benefits and reflect the costs of acting/not acting to address the climate crisis.

Regrettably, the Government, consumed by Brexit, has shown itself to be completely ill equipped and uninterested in taking the necessary action to deal with the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the rainforest in Brazil burns. With an election around the corner, it is only Labour that has an economic strategy that will transform and decarbonise the economy so we can tackle the climate crisis, for the many and not the few.

Peter Dowd is Labour MP for Bootle and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury