Boris Johnson announces 10-point green plan with 250,000 jobs
Boris Johnson has announced plans for the government’s self-styled green industrial revolution, bringing praise from environmental groups but also questions about the scale of new funding, and the planned expansion of nuclear and hydrogen power.
In a move aimed at retaking the initiative after a politically turbulent few weeks, the prime minister said the 10-point plan would create up to 250,000 jobs, with much of the focus aimed at the north of England, Midlands, Scotland and Wales.
But Labour called the plan “deeply, deeply disappointing” in ambition, saying it would neither properly tackle the climate emergency nor the jobs crisis caused by coronavirus.
One of the points is the previously trailed pledge to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, 10 years ahead of the previous schedule. Another existing promise is to quadruple the amount of offshore wind power capacity within a decade.
Greenpeace said the measures marked a notable step forward for tackling the climate emergency, saying: “This landmark announcement signals the end of the road for polluting cars and vans and a historic turning point on climate action.”
However, the group warned the scheme also had flaws. “It’s a shame the prime minister remains fixated on other speculative solutions, such as nuclear and hydrogen from fossil fuels, that will not be taking us to zero emissions anytime soon, if ever,” said Rebecca Newsom, Greenpeace UK’s head of politics.
The programme is billed as costing £12bn, with Downing Street saying £8bn of this is new. However, Labour said it believed only £4bn was new spending.
The 10-point plan comprises:
While Johnson said the plan would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, while “making strides towards net zero by 2050”, Labour said it was “a pale imitation” of the green stimulus package needed.
Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, whose plan for a green Covid recovery involves £30bn spent over 18 months, said the No 10 proposals were low on ambition and contained several “reheated pledges”.
“People are losing their jobs now,” Miliband said. “This isn’t fundamentally a green stimulus, it’s nowhere near the scale of what is required.
“This announcement doesn’t remotely meet the scale of the jobs emergency or the climate emergency. France and Germany are investing tens of billions of euros. This provides, at best, £4bn of new money over several years.
“What we needed was a really bold green economic stimulus, and what we got was a pale imitation of that. It’s deeply, deeply disappointing.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, condemned the plan as vague and underpowered.
She said: “This is a shopping list, not a plan to address the climate emergency, and it commits only a fraction of the necessary resources.”
Hilary McGrady, the director general of the National Trust, said the plan was “a fantastic platform” ahead of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.
She said: “But technology alone can’t cut emissions and restore nature. The government will need to follow this up with an ambitious pledge to cut emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris agreement.”
The Confederation of British Industry’s acting director general, Josh Hardie, said the plan “represents a clear statement of intent from the government”.
He said: “It gives a springboard to the huge opportunities for UK-wide investment and green jobs that a true low-carbon economy can bring.”
Nicola Shaw, the UK executive director of National Grid, said:“The prime minister has set out great ambition for the net zero transition including commitments on offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. We also welcome the earlier ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles and the support for the rollout of electric vehicles which will help improve the country’s air quality.
“Now, industry and government must work together to turn this ambition into reality, with transformational investments to deliver real change, which will create jobs in every part of the country.”