Labour has placed climate action at the heart of its plans for industrial strategy after including it as one of the key priorities within a public consultation published yesterday.
The document has been released by Labour’s shadow secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS), Clive Lewis and shadow minister for industrial strategy, Chi Onwurah to inform the basis of party policy going forward.
The consultation is seeking views from businesses, trade unions, third sector organisations and members of the public on a range of issues including employment, increasing productivity and creating a better regional and sectoral balance.
However, the opposition party has also placed environmental sustainability as a priority for any future industrial strategy in an effort to plan for a transition to a low carbon economy.
“It is imperative that we refashion our economy so that it alleviates rather than exacerbates the mounting global climate crisis, with a just transition to reduced energy consumption, a balanced energy policy, and meeting our commitments under the Paris agreement. Doing so presents an opportunity to take a leading role in the development of environmental technology,” the document states.
It asks for views on the best industrial strategy for meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets; what goals are needed to moving towards a carbon-neutral economy; how UK supply chains can be established in low carbon manufacturing; and what transitional measures are needed for workers in high carbon jobs.
The consultation also asks what Labour’s environmental and industrial priorities should be, specifically referencing renewable energy storage technologies.
It argues that the growing global effort against climate change has led to growing opportunities for business, with economic decarbonisation leading to “the largest mobilisation of capital the world has ever seen”.
It adds: “Britain needs to be geared up to deliver and export the products and services to harness this change. Doing so will bring forth benefits not just of exports and growth but also new high-quality jobs in green tech and innovation, cheaper energy bills, cleaner air and safer communities.”
The consultation follows a speech delivered by Lewis last year, in which he committed a future Labour government to ensuring 60% of the UK’s energy comes from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030.
He added that achieving this goal would boost UK competitiveness in green energy industries and create good jobs in post-industrial areas.
In a statement released yesterday to launch the consultation, the shadow BEIS secretary said: “Last year I set out Labour’s vision for a high-skill, high-wage, high-productivity economy, and promised that Labour will work in partnership with business and trade unions to develop an industrial strategy that will bring good jobs to every corner of the country.
“This consultation will help us develop the specific policies and interventions to make this vision a reality. I urge everyone to get involved – together we can deliver an economy that is stronger, fairer, and sustainable.”
By publishing its consultation, Labour has moved faster than government which has yet to publish an official outline of its own industrial strategy despite forming the new BEIS department in July.
Details of the country’s efforts have been thin on the ground, with prime minister Theresa May confirming new funding for unspecified research and development back in November.
Meanwhile, BEIS secretary Greg Clark has revealed some details, including a role for electric vehicles, and is expected to meet with businesses ahead of a government green paper on industrial strategy due out later this month.