Caroline Flint, the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, today warned that “a new energy industrial revolution beckons, and our country must embrace it without delay,” during a speech to the Aldersgate Group, a coalition of environment agencies, NGOs, think tanks and industry representatives.

Flint warned that there are currently two damaging forces at work which are threatening a successful transition to a thriving low-carbon economy. Flint blamed Tory MPs for the continued proliferation of the view that Governmental-led green policies are an unnecessary burden on UK business. Flint singles out the Chancellor, George Osborne, for a scathing attack, accusing him of revelling in his “contempt for environmental protection.”

Flint also spoke about the threat of extreme environmentalists, who believe that economic growth should be forsaken to protect Earth’s rapidly depleting resources. However, the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change disagrees with both views, rejecting the notion that economic growth and environmental sustainability are inherently irreconcilable.

Flint retorted: “This is not a journey of economic altruism – but a battle for economic survival.”

The Shadow Secretary argues that the longer the UK delays significant action, the costlier it will be; reiterating her belief that Britain is “on the cusp of a new industrial revolution” as it inevitably moves from a high carbon economy to a low one, in order to meet legally-binding carbon emission targets.

During the speech, Flint contests that significant investment in green infrastructure is required to provide a platform for economic growth, and not just growth in the green sector, but across the whole economy. Flint continued to round on the current Government accusing them of failing to capitalise on the opportunity presented to the UK by the transition to a green economy.

The Labour MP once more criticised Osborne, highlighting the juxtaposition of his pre-election pledge of global green leadership with his autumn statement declarations that the UK “would cut carbon no slower or faster than fellow EU countries,” and that environmental policies were a “burden” on UK businesses. Such contradictions, Flint argues, severely undermine investor confidence in the green sector.

The best example of damaged investor confidence, Flint continued, was “the chaotic mismanagement of the reduction in the tariff level for solar power.”

“At a time when the economy is flat-lining and unemployment is rising, we have to ask ourselves what sort of Government chooses to destroy an industry that is actually growing and creating jobs.

“And when you look at Germany, which is still second in the world for investment in clean energy, in 2010, 88 percent of its clean energy investments were in solar, and 83 percent were in small-scale projects.

“What’s happened to the solar industry in this country has implications for investment in the green economy as a whole. How can the Government encourage investors to support the renewable heat incentive, the green deal or any other green policies in the future, when a growing sector, built on a flagship policy that had cross-party support, was cut off at the knees with just six weeks’ notice?”

Flint continued by pointing out that the decommissioning of around a quarter of the UK’s existing electricity generation capacity should be viewed as a “once in a generation opportunity” to deliver a more sustainable electricity mix.

The Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change concluded that, “the UK is in danger of missing a golden opportunity not just to reboot our economy, but to build a more resilient, and responsible economy for the future, built not just on sustained, but sustainable growth. But we need an active industrial strategy, focused on growth, skilled job creation and a revival of Britain's manufacturing sector, which can be both clean and green.”

Caroline Flint’s speech can be viewed in full here.