We've made a good start, but with ambition we can do even more for our green recovery
‘Green clusters’ in former industrial regions will bring high quality jobs and opportunities to those who have been left behind, writes Alexander Stafford MP | Adobe Stock
By recognising the skills in ex-industrial settlements and working in tandem with the private sector, we can go further in our green recovery from Covid-19
As the United Kingdom continues to open up, our thoughts turn to restoring our ailing economy to full health. The new generation of Conservative MPs see the green recovery as being a natural fit for our desire to bolster our economy and increase jobs in our areas. With renewables generating nearly 40% of our energy last year and providing 250,000 jobs, a green future is inevitable. The argument has been won within Westminster and nationally; the debate now is how quickly we transition to a green economy and in what manner we do so.
I am emphatic that a green recovery holds the key to levelling up our country and reinvigorating our economy. Our vision for this green recovery is firmly anchored to the promotion of UK plc. We have the opportunity to become world leaders in green technology, finance, and expertise which we can export around the world. But we must act decisively in order to steal a march on competitors and unlock the bountiful economic dividends that await us.
This means recognising the role that our ex-industrial settlements can play in Britain’s green revolution. My constituents in Rother Valley, South Yorkshire have great technical skill and manufacturing know-how, thanks to the area’s coal mining and steel heritage. ‘Green clusters’ in these regions will bring high quality jobs and opportunities to those who have been left behind by our London dominated national economy. Rother Valley’s transition from fossil fuel industry to manufacturing hub for renewables will serve as a powerful symbol of our nation’s green renaissance.
The Government has made it very clear that a green recovery is not only beneficial but necessary. The chancellor’s £3bn package will support 140,000 green jobs, save households up to £300 a year on their bills, and make over 650,000 homes more energy efficient. It will cut carbon emissions by more than half a mega tonne per year, equivalent to taking 270,000 cars off the road.
Green recovery can only be achieved if the private and public capital work in tandem
We can and will go further. The Government must invest directly in renewables and associated infrastructure, and we should look again at the merits of a ‘green bank’, such as the KfW in Germany, which local authorities and businesses in all corners of the UK can utilise. I am particularly interested in the case for issuing a green gilt, which raised €22bn in France and can be ringfenced for green initiatives. A VAT stimulus on energy saving materials, increasing green procurement, and settling the debate between grants and guarantees for retrofitting homes all need to be considered. We must seize the initiative ahead of other countries by backing new innovative technologies such as hydrogen.
For all the Government’s measures, green recovery can only be achieved if the private and public capital work in tandem. It is important that we foster the flow of private capital into accelerating the build of renewable energy, creating sustainable jobs without costing the public purse or raising energy bills. Furthermore, within investment management there is a growing awareness that being profitable and environmental do in fact go hand in hand. The Government can assist this by providing political certainty to the sector and improving the relevant infrastructure.
I am left in no doubt that a green recovery is not only the right choice for Britain, but our only choice. We can turbocharge our economy, level up across the regions, increase jobs, and meet our net zero target by embracing a green way of thinking. I am proud to be at the forefront of this new brand of conservatism, where blue and green sit side by side.
Alexander Stafford is Conservative MP for Rother Valley