Boris Johnson has announced plans for the government’s so-called green industrial revolution, drawing 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 few politically turbulent weeks, the prime minister said the 10-point plan would create up to 250,000 jobs, with much of the focus targeting the North of England, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales.
But the Labor Party called the plan “deeply, deeply disappointing” in its ambition, and said it would not adequately address the climate emergency and the labor crisis caused by the coronavirus.
One of the points is the promise of end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars and vans by 2030, 10 years earlier than the previous calendar. Another existing promise is to quadruple offshore wind capacity in a decade.
Greenpeace said the measures marked a remarkable step forward in addressing the climate emergency, saying: “This landmark announcement marks the end of the road for polluting cars and trucks and a historic turning point in climate action.”
However, the group cautioned that the scheme also had flaws. “It is a shame that the prime minister is still obsessed with other speculative solutions, such as nuclear and hydrogen from fossil fuels, that will not lead to zero emissions in the short term, if ever,” said Rebecca Newsom, head of Greenpeace UK policy.
The program is priced at £ 12bn, and Downing Street says £ 8bn of this is new. However, Labor said he believed only £ 4bn was new spending.
The 10-point plan comprises:
Ban on the sale of combustion engines by 2030, with subsidies for electric cars and financing for charging points. The sale of some hybrid cars and vans will continue until 2035.
A previously announced commitment to Quadruple Offshore Wind Power By 2030, at 40 GW, enough to power every UK household.
It moves to boost hydrogen production, with the promise of a city heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
£ 525 million investment in new nuclear energy, based on ‘the next generation of small and advanced reactors”.
£ 1bn next year for funds to insulate public homes and buildings, using the existing green housing grant and public sector decarbonisation scheme.
An extra £ 200 million invested in carbon capture initiatives.
Support for greener energy in the aviation and maritime sectors, with £ 20 million committed to the latter.
30,000 hectares of trees planted each year, as part of nature conservation efforts.
It moves to promote public transportation, cycling and walking, although no new schemes were announced.
A commitment to make London “the global center for green finance”.
While Johnson said the plan would create hundreds of thousands of jobs while “moving toward net zero by 2050,” Labor said it was “a pale imitation” of the necessary green stimulus package.
Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, whose plan a green Covid recovery involves £ 30 billion spent over 18 months, said proposals n. 10 had low ambition and contained several “overheated promises.”
“People are losing their jobs now,” Miliband said. “This is not fundamentally a green stimulus, it is not close to the scale of what is required.
“This announcement does not even remotely reach the scale of the labor emergency or the climate emergency. France and Germany are investing tens of billions of euros. This provides, at best, £ 4 billion 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 is deeply, deeply disappointing. “
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MP, condemned the plan as vague and powerless.
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, CEO of the National Trust, said the plan was “a fantastic platform” before the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.
She said: “But technology alone cannot reduce emissions and restore nature. The government will need to follow up on this with an ambitious commitment to reduce emissions by 2030 in accordance with the Paris agreement ”.
The acting director general of the Confederation of British Industry, Josh Hardie, said the plan “represents a clear statement of intent from the government.”
He said: ‘It gives a springboard to the huge investment opportunities across the UK and green jobs that a true low carbon economy can provide.’
Nicola Shaw, Chief Executive Officer of National Grid UK, said: “The Prime Minister has set great ambition for the net zero transition, including commitments on offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. We also welcome the previous ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles and support for the launch of electric vehicles that will help improve the country’s air quality.
“Now, industry and government must work together to turn this ambition into reality, with transformative investments to bring about real change that will create jobs in all parts of the country.”